by Alexander De Beir - Managing Director ADM
"Never have we been as free as under COVID-19"
My opening comment will surprise many. It may shock those who have felt trapped by the pandemic that has held the world hostage for more than six months now. It reminds me of a famous phrase by the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre:
"Never have we been as free as under the German occupation." Similarities with the current context seem clear to me. Of course, today the enemy has taken a different form, and the battle is different. However, I would like to emphasize which lessons we can learn from the similarities. As humans, we remain "condemned to be free" as Sartre also said, because we can make the conscious choice of freedom in the light of the risks it entails. We can also decide not to sink into fatalism, defeatism, but to rise to the challenge of moving forward, to undertake, to succeed by not subjecting ourselves to the dictates that this pandemic imposes on us, as an invader.
Of course, our moral freedom to act ends where it infringes on someone else’s freedom. Our actions cannot endanger the health of the other person. But we need to think together, as entrepreneurs, and ideally with the active participation of the political world, in order to regain a common, reasonable but ambitious space of free trade and free circulation. It is on this new balance that a new, more mature and sustainable prosperity will rest.
Take the risk of success
Today, we should dare to take risks instead of feeling crippled and pushed into a form of collective panic. Risk is inherent to any form of entrepreneurship. Faced with adversity, a number of entrepreneurs have chosen the "resistance" by embarking on a new business, by creating a new service, a new product, or by adjusting their business model. They give themselves this freedom, galvanized by their courage and their ambition to move forward.
The taste of success will be stronger. At the same time, for many business leaders, the current era is still synonymous with questioning or reassessment. Of their business model, their internal structure, their markets, etc. Remember, the etymology of the word crisis, krisis in ancient Greek, means (the need to make a) “decision”. However, it is sometimes difficult to make disruptive decisions within a company without the advice and input of external partners, who guide the company for a fixed period, with all their expertise, for the duration of a well-defined project.
At ADM, we are in daily contact with these "accelerators or facilitators of change". In today's environment, Interim CFOs and CEOs, successfully demonstrate their added value in their ability to optimize cost management. But their rationale and purpose is also resolutely in the long term goals. They can be those people who prevent us from standing still but instead catapult us, through their experience and skills, beyond danger, while accurately estimating where we will land.
Then, we will no longer think of this danger as a risk but as a challenge we have overcome. So let's take the risk to succeed today, more than ever!