How Are Croatian Enterprises Surviving Pandemic? Improvisation

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, the world is entering its second year of the coronavirus pandemic and, judging by the chaos with vaccine production (not to mention the appearance of new mutated strains), a return to life as we once knew it (and which we took for granted) will take time, which puts the issue of Croatian enterprises and their level of resilience in the long run at the very forefront.

Croatian enterprises, for the most part and in certain sectors, have done relatively well over the past year thanks to boasting an improvisation mentality without which the fall in Croatian GDP would have been even greater, but now is the time to truly take advantage of that.

“We in the region have shown ourselves to be creative because we’re constantly living in a crisis here. We survived the first year of the coronavirus pandemic exclusively on the wave of improvisation, since Croatia enterprises generally didn’t have any crisis plans, except for the biggest ones,” stated Zlatko Bazianec, head of the Croatian office of Deloitte.

Contingency plans, for example, provide for concrete steps in the event of major disruptions, such as earthquakes. What if the location is compromised? What is the closest alternative, which people are critical, who will perform certain key actions and how – these are all steps that such a scenario has to work to predict, and in great detail.

Even the largest Croatian enterprises, however, weren’t prepared for a combination of two disasters, a pandemic and a set of earthquakes at the same time. “During the first wave, we learned a lot, we adapted quickly. If we were to re-enter ”lockdown” again we’d be more prepared because we’ve since learned how to perform most tasks remotely.

Due to constant improvisation, we have an advantage over those who normally live in an orderly society, such as Germany or Sweden,” added Bazianec, who is convinced that Croatia has ”saved” at least 5 percentage points of its GDP to pure creativity.

As a transition economy, the problem Croatia often faces is the lack of capital within its companies, so, in an environment with falling incomes and GDP, there isn’t much room for tolerance for a long-lasting crisis. “That’s why this advantage should be used for the future, and not just wait for a new crisis to happen,” he said.

“Let’s all learn something from this. We all need to be better prepared, there’es an opportunity here to shorten the supply chain and Croatian enterprises should try to conquer a new market or two. Education, investment in people and technology, health and the environment are key. The time for that is limited because when things go back to normal, then these other countries will come back much stronger and it will be too late,” Bazianec said.

Figuratively speaking, large earthquakes, for which the term ”disruptive disorders” is coined, can occur slowly and almost imperceptibly, like climate change, but they can also strike suddenly, like a storm.

The so-called ”film” combination can’t be ruled out either: earthquakes coincided with the coronavirus pandemic in Croatia, and political instability, protests against racism and Donald Trump’s coup attempt happened across the Atlantic.

“Few organisations have been adequately prepared for the sort of turmoil we’ve seen on global markets during 2020. The overlapping global pandemic, social and political unrest, and deteriorating climate events have hit private and public sectors hard around the world.

An increasing number of challenges have expanded the concept of preparedness to ways that many could never have anticipated and put an unthinkable level of pressure on them,” wrote Deloitte CEO Punit Renjen in the introduction to the 2021 Global Resilience Report.

Created by a survey of 2,260 managers in 21 study countries, the consulting firm examines how companies cope with the “new normal”, how they respond to difficult choices, how they explore new ways of doing business and how they face fundamental changes in their strategies.

Such questions are crucial because most respondents believe that 2020 will not remain an exception, unfortunately. Over 6 out of 10 respondents expect new disturbances to occur, either occasionally or regularly, and as many as three quarters believe that the climate crisis is similar or even worse than the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

There’s a message to be sent out to Croatian enterprises and business owners, and that is that there are several main attributes of resilient companies:

Corporate culture

They’re prepared, adaptable (primarily thanks to having more versatile employees), willing to cooperate within their organisations, they’re reliable (again with an emphasis placed primarily on employees) and they’re responsible.

These characteristics don’t arise by themselves but require desire, effort, investment and moves to cultivate and sustain them, and companies in which they intentionally become a ”mindset” and corporate culture are at an advantage as they seek the path to a ”better norma”’ in a post- pandemic world, the study concluded.

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