Boris Was Right – It’s Not His Fault…It’s Business
As the dust settles and the musty smell of Tory MP’s dissipates from Manchester, the media, ‘commentators’ and think-tanks were up in arms at the Prime Minister’s speech. Calling the speech full of bluster, inept or pointing out that he was ignoring the problems the UK currently faces doesn’t make anyone feel any better. Especially business.
The tidal wave of soundbites all over the media, from business owners and ‘concerned’ third parties apportioning blame back at the Government were difficult to avoid, and all of this after a global pandemic which saw Britain shutdown for the best part of twelve months and other parts of the world yet to re-open. But there is one thing that those same critics of our bumbling blonde bombshell aren’t talking about. Those same business owners, boards of directors, the employees and the CEO’s of businesses in Britain, do need to shoulder a lot of responsibility and take a good look at themselves in the mirror because they are just as much to blame for things not being rosey in the British garden at the moment.
It’s rather simplistic to blame everyone but yourself, but there does seem to be an awful lot of that going on since way before the pandemic. And as someone far smarter than me once said, “Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ve always got.”
Looking back to the heated debates of Brexit and the way it ended up nearly a draw, it was obvious no one was ever going to be happy. Over the last few years that has played out both in politics and in the conversations in the pub, or nowadays the trendy local ‘coffee shops’. Aside from the ineptitude shown by our Government in negotiating a coherent deal with plenty of time to sort stuff out, lets not forget that those in the EU were also trying to make things as difficult for us as they could. The French regularly calling us names, whilst their own people were holding demonstrations because weren’t happy with with something or other and the Germans complaining about immigration in their own country but quite happy to pop people on a boat to arrive here instead and call us racist. No, we didn’t do a good job; it went into extra time; and quite frankly WE should have done a better job.
Notice I said the word ‘WE’, and that will rear its head again soon. A slow zombie walk in a matter of weeks and we’re in a complete mess with a Global Pandemic that results in virtually everything shutting down, locking the doors and switching on Netflix. And guess what?
Seems we couldn’t do that right. In the words of my own father Terrence,
“In the Second World War we were asked to leave our homes in the middle of the night, go into concrete bunkers with no power, no heat, no light and the fear that a bomb was going to drop on our heads and kill us at any moment. You lot were asked to go home, lock your doors, watch telly, eat and drink as much as you like, when you like and you couldn’t do that properly.”
He’s not wrong.
But over the last 10 years, perhaps even longer I’ve noticed two things and they are as plain as day, unless you are in the media and want to sell papers, grab viewers attentions or get social media likes. As a country we are always on the back foot and it’s always someone else’s fault.
We voted to leave the EU in 2016. It’s now 2021. Are business ‘leaders’ and owners actually going to tell me they had no time to plan strategy B, C, D, E and all the other letters of the alphabet to be in a better position than we are right now?
Are those same people going to tell me that they don’t understand trends, customer and client behaviours so much that they didn’t see the online shopping revolution coming miles away? That hospitality has been so reliant on cheap labour, poor value, awful experiences, crap food and over bloated costs that big and little names fell by the wayside as we got stuff delivered to our doors like the Americans have been doing for more than a decade before us? That office staff were mind numbingly pissed off so much at the 9-5 in the office that they rejoiced at the chance of working on an old laptop from a wobbly kitchen table? Can they seriously tell me that a shortage of HGV drivers hasn’t been a decade in the making, nearly 5 years prior to European drivers picking up their bats and balls and going home?
Are people just waking up to the fact we have basically become that stereotype country that others view us as? We moan all the time, the weather is crap and we’ve all got bad teeth? How did this happen?
Because WE couldn’t be bothered to come up with solutions. As a country with some of the worlds finest Universities and some of the most brilliant entrepreneurial minds, we have spent the last 5 years coming up with excuses, blaming each other and no one has taken a bloody good look at themselves, taken responsibility and said, “I’m going to sort this.”
A business by definition, and every business ever created is a problem solver. They solve a problem for a customer, consumer or client. Yet, as we stand in 2021, there are so many businesses that aren’t even doing that very well. They’ve emerged from the cocoon of lockdown and Government handouts to a world in which we’ve all changed. Every single dam one of us. So why are those same businesses giving us that same old shit that they did last year, they year before that, the five years before that and a decade before that? Those businesses who don’t realise the world and it’s people have changed, should shut the doors now and stop watering down what could be one of the most exciting times in British Business.
The media has trained us to look for problems where none exist – fuel crisis anyone? The lockdowns made us realise we could have a night in and get drunk for £25 instead of buying one round for the same price. Home cooking taught us we could eat better, for a lot less and still pile on the weight. Pervesrley it also taught us that getting fit at home was easier and more convenient than spending money on a gym membership if you had the right motivation. We became more productive working from home, because people were taking selfies of themselves drinking Gin at 2pm in the garden when they usually were chained to their desks. That those previously thought of ‘unskilled’ jobs are probably the most important cogs in the wheels of society? (I’d like to see some self important careers reverse an 18 wheel truck or fill up the tinned vegetable aisle in a supermarket in less than hour.) We have all changed. And now is as good a time as any to change the way we do things in this country.
I’m not a ‘Tory and no I don’t think Boris is the poster boy for the UK that we deserve, but whilst many threw their toys of the cot about what his speech did or didn’t contain, he was right about one thing. We have a chance to change things for the better, to balance things out, change direction and be amazing. WE all, in business, need to take responsibility for where we are right now. WE all have to come up with solutions. WE all have to work towards getting on the front foot. WE all have to buck up our ideas, stop moaning and do better.