A Bird In Hand Is Worth Way More Than Two In The Bush

“A bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush,” is an old English proverb from the fifteenth century, and quite likely came from other cultures before that.  Whether the origin is English, or from another culture, the message is the same; be cautious to risk that which you have for something that you don’t.

While we seem to have settled on the modern version that one bird is worth more than two in the bush, it hasn’t always been that way.  In 1546, John Heywood included a warning in his works, “Better one byrde in hande than ten in the wood.” Even more dramatic is a 7th century caution in the Story of Ahikar which concludes, “Better is a sparrow held tight in the hand than a thousand birds flying about in the air.” It is difficult to know exactly how much more valuable a bird in hand might be than any number in the bush, but quite often it is way more than 2.  This may be particularly true in a world with Covid.  In recent years business strived for innovation.  Rethink a business entirely and “disrupt it.” What we didn’t envision was the disruption that would come with the pandemic.  It may be time to dust off the old proverb and realize that we need to simplify and protect the things that make us great.

Customers Are Hard To Come By

Before Covid, a typical business could rely on a revenue base that was fairly predictable for 75-90% of the total with new business making up the remainder.  Notwithstanding some terrific gains made by certain essential business, new business acquisition became a significant challenge during Covid.  It has been a time where past practice and past customer satisfaction has come home to roost for those that didn’t pay attention to existing customers.  A satisfied customer was (and is) golden during Covid. Of course, that is not only true during Covid, but losing customers during the pandemic was certainly a stark reminder for many.  Covid has forced the business community to hang tightly onto its existing accounts and care more for what they have.

Good Environments Are Hard To Come By

They say that most people can naturally “do,” some can naturally manage, and few can lead.  This is a dilemma for the average business and the average employee. Gallup suggests that roughly 3 in 10 have what it takes to be an effective manager, which doesn’t bode well for the majority of employees, particularly in a virtual world.  Covid pushed managers, even the great ones behind a screen and that made things more difficult for everyone.  This scenario is being played out across the globe as the so-called “Great Resignation” takes place in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic. A study done by Microsoft found that over 40% of the workforce is considering leaving or switching professions this year.  For the average business, leaders have always struggled to provide an engaging and inclusive environment for their team. This is exacerbated today. Businesses must innovate, perhaps innovate to simplify only the things that are truly important in order to create environments that people want to belong.

Partners Are Hard To Come By

The disruption of Covid and the effect on supply chains has caused most businesses to be flexible, nimble, and responsive.  A certain corporate empathy has been required to get through the past seventeen months, which has allowed businesses to work more collaboratively with their suppliers.  New rules have been written on the fly to simplify the complexities of the pre-covid world, and those that worked together tended to make it work.  It has underscored the aspects of corporate relationships that are truly important, and a reminder that the fundamentals are key in a crisis.

Many of us believed that the introduction of a vaccine would bring the virus to its knees, but it seems that we are in for a longer haul here. Waves of infection, while we exercise our rights to be free, followed by limited mobility and stifled freedoms. It is this cycle that has caused a better recognition by employers and employees alike, that there may be some merit to a simpler approach, and we have realized it at Covid’s insistence.

As we dismantle the complexity of things we cannot have, we can cherish the things that we do.  Good customers, good environments and good partners are worth holding close. Doing so may require that we care and maintain what we have before we chase the things that we don’t.