The entrepreneurial spirit

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by Emily Atkins

From its very beginnings the pandemic has been inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit. As fast as the effects of global lockdowns and business closures began being felt, innovative solutions were springing to life.

It’s been a field of dreams for software developers, as the demand for contact-free commerce suddenly became the hot app that everyone needed to have. As early as March we saw the example of Polish delivery company Expert Transport teaming up with Netherlands-based Teina, a software developer, to create a voice-signing app that allows recipients to verbally acknowledge their deliveries. From idea to rollout took only a weekend.

Other examples are plentiful; we look at a few of them on page 13. From telematics to dock and yard management software, temperature scanning and contact tracing, technology developers have been at the forefront of meeting the Covid challenge.

But in this pandemic environment nimble innovation is not just the preserve of the guys who can code. It’s amazing to see the behemoths of manufacturing, auto makers, heavy industry suppliers, and logistics providers suddenly able to cut through their normal bureaucratic practices to turn on a dime.

We were lucky to get an interview with Ian Soutter who led General Motors Canada’s shift into making face masks for the Canadian government. As Soutter says in our feature (starting on page 16), when everyone in the entire company had the sole focus of getting a mask manufacturing line up and running in the least possible time, normal barriers just melted away. And that’s in a union shop, demonstrating how a common objective can unite parties who don’t always see eye to eye.

And GM is by no means alone in this success. Businesses that are thriving during the pandemic are the ones that have found news ways to achieve their goals. Whether that’s basic, like abandoning the requirement for in-person meetings, or profound, such as ditching old decision-making habits to speed things up, figuring out to do business differently is table stakes now.

The Covid-19 world is an environment where the bold, the unconventional and the direct are thriving. How has your organization seized the day?

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