Ecosystems of value and grace

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Willem S Eksteen | Chief Executive | Stone | mail me |


COVID-19 came to be the reset button for our world. There is massive innovation afoot: everything is becoming digital, interaction, distribution channels, and a myriad of new receiving devices to play in this digital space. There is also a greater choice, giving the user the control to demand what they need, when they need it, and where, allowing people to craft the services they desire.



Now more than ever, well-thought-out communication engagement is critical to business continuity to connect people and keep relations where this pandemic demands social distancing. The world after Coronavirus COVID- 19 is not going to be an easier place. Everything has changed and what we knew as normal is now different. We foresee new competition and more competition as people reinvent themselves and innovate their businesses in the race to attract audiences. As business engagement strategists, we need to look at how we manage communication engagement intelligently.

Creating ecosystems of value

According to recent findings by Accenture, COVID-19 is now deemed to be the most important digital accelerator in the current business space, impacting Systems, Experience, Commerce, Leadership, Workplace, Customers, Supply Chain, and Operations. We must explore the opportunities of how we can harness the new normal to end up in a better place than we were before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reality is we cannot assume that things will return to business as usual beyond COVID-19. Things will remain different. We have moved into an era of Slowbalisation – rightly coined by PwC. According to their research, trade tensions in the global goods market will persist, giving way to ‘slowbalisation’ i.e. the continued integration of the global economy via trade, financial and other flows but at a significantly slower pace (PwC, 2020).

To face this storm, we must have a strong effective supply chain defence going forward, incident management, and scenario plan specific to this crisis at hand. The normal cut-and-paste crisis plan template won’t cut it. The key thing is to effectively engage with all of your stakeholders from the onset and at every stage. If you plan how you will meet your regulatory priorities and obligations for your business, you can minimise and learn impact during the process to avoid a more unnecessary mess when things inevitably get messy.



To stay relevant and financially sustainable, we will need to not only manage capital efficiency very well but also take all of our stakeholders on this journey with us. This is where an integrated engagement model as a business tool is important. It’s not about creating noise, it is about connecting all of your stakeholders and from there adding value beyond where you started before COVID-19.

This is what I term building an ecosystem of value. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of grace to one another in business, recognising that others are facing the same effects of COVID-19 as you. The companies that will thrive through COVID-19 will be the ones with soul – those that add more value than what they take in payment. I often quote from The Go-Giver, a short and impactful read by Bob Burg and John D. Mann which contains truths and principles that apply now even more. The book emphasises on the principle of value – that you are worth is determined by how much you give in value than you take in payment, in other words, let value drive your business. Don’t let your earnings drive your business but rather seek to add value to your customers, partners, and your total ecosystems. This will set you apart in a noisy world and allow you to gain influence in the environment in which you do business.

Where do I start?

The art of communication is the language of leadership

Communicating with purpose is paramount. I agree with James Hughes when he says the art of communication is the


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Read the full article by Willem S Eksteen, Chief Executive, Stoneas well as a host of other topical management articles written by professionals, consultants and academics in the June/July 2020 edition of BusinessBrief.


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