President Mar / Apr 2020

Plan and adapt for trying times

Part of the role of a leader is to bring clarity where there is confusion. For many years, I thought that meant that any leader worth their salt should have a plan. Not just any plan, but the plan—perfectly formed from conception and providing all the answers. Time and experience, however, have long since disabused me of that idea. Perfect plans are a nice, but somewhat naïve, aspiration. This is particularly true in the face of real-world uncertainty, where reality has a habit of throwing up the unexpected when, let’s face it, you least expect it.


As we are all aware, the plans that we eventually adopt are often the product of multiple iterations and refinements. So, to think that one individual on their own can dream up the perfect plan shows blindness to the power of the team of which they are a part. Far better, I think, is that leaders bring clarity of purpose and a clear goal. With that goal, or at least a well-established direction of travel, a high-performing team can begin to effectively use its collective talents in the struggle to figure out what their plan should be.

And, so it is at the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ). Like all organisations—sadly now throughout the world—we have spent much time deciding how best to respond to the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19. As we watch successive news bulletins, it is important to remember that the numbers affected are not mere statistics. There is a human story behind every case. We must also be mindful of the need to maintain perspective. In doing so, each of us has an obligation to make sensible and proportionate changes to our routines that will enable us to move forward with our daily lives in line with our purpose.


The BCCJ Executive Committee’s immediate goal in responding to the current situation is to preserve the wellbeing of BCCJ personnel, chamber members and the community of which we are a part. Accordingly, we decided at the end of February to post­pone face-to-face BCCJ events for two weeks. We conti­nue to synthe­sise informa­tion from trusted sources on a daily basis, and by the time you read this issue of BCCJ ACUMEN you will know whether circum­stances have caused us to extend this moratorium.

Although there is much we do not know about Covid-19, I am certain that it will not change the BCCJ’s purpose—that our members make great connections with people who matter. While the cham­ber continues, there­fore, to be responsive to official guidance, we are in parallel exploring alter­­na­­­­tive ways in which we can responsibly engage with—and conti­nue to serve—our members and stake­­­holders. For a while, this may involve a shift to online formats, which in itself offers great poten­tial to reach and engage with a wider audience of members. I, for one though, will be looking forward to a bonanza of in-person events as soon as circumstances allow.