Kevin Bell

Partner, Centigo UK
Find me on:

Recent Posts

Post COVID-19: Brexit

Posted by Kevin Bell on Oct 7, 2020 12:31:25 PM

Since the 23rd March 2020, when the UK transitioned overnight into a self-enforced national lockdown in an attempt to curtail the transmission of COVID-19, executives have been almost entirely focused on damage limitation to their people, business infrastructure and trading position. As we now emerge from lockdown, in the absence of a viable vaccine and attempt to manage the further spread of the virus by local, less economically damaging measures, we must focus on other important events looming large on the immediate time horizon. If not handled correctly and with knowledge, insight and experience these events will be as equally damaging to many of our UK businesses as the virus itself.

Tags: Brexit Centigo_UK COVID-19

Post COVID-19: Rise of the Back Office

Posted by Kevin Bell on Sep 16, 2020 2:06:06 PM

As we return to the workplace and attempt to emerge from beneath the shadow of COVID-19 we will see that, for most organisations around the world, the pandemic has laid waste to the P&L and Balance Sheet to the extent that they now both exhibit significantly more red than black. Undoubtedly, planning for and executing a successful recovery will cost money. So, every function in the organisation will now be under scrutiny. Not least those functions previously classified as “indirects” or “back office” such as finance, legal, human resources and information technology, etc. Because money is tight, and the capital markets are hesitant to lend on reasonable terms in the present uncertain times, all internal costs will become a focus of attention.

Tags: Centigo_UK Business_Transformation COVID-19 WFH

Post COVID-19: Leader or Manager?

Posted by Kevin Bell on Aug 25, 2020 11:57:07 AM

Every executive running a busy organisation has, at one time or another, stared through the office window and thought “… if only I were King (or Queen) for a day and could just stop the business merry-go-round for long enough to re-shape and re-position my business it could all be so very different...” Well, probably none of us will ever be a King or a Queen. And, in any case, there is a wise old idiom we should remember which asserts that you should always “be careful what you wish for, lest it come true”. Never has this been truer than in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic. That certainly stopped the business merry-go-round for us all, in no uncertain terms. Having been on forced lock-down for several months now we have all had plenty of time to watch and reflect on the damage it has done to our industries, businesses, suppliers, customers and markets.

Tags: Business_Wellness Centigo_UK COVID-19 leadership

Post COVID-19: Reinventing Work and the WFH phenomenon

Posted by Kevin Bell on Aug 25, 2020 11:43:52 AM

While there would seem to be little to thank COVID-19 for it has forced us all, as business executives, to confront an unspoken truth. Since at least the dawn of the digital era, however you want to recognise that - be it the widespread use of the internet and the development of broadband; or the creation and proliferation of connected mobile devices in our commercial and domestic lives – we have never really needed to continue working the same old way we always have. We have all succumbed to one of the most basic failings of the human condition - the unconscious bias toward the maintenance of the comfortable norm in the sense of trudging each day to the office or factory and back while comprehensively failing to rapidly grasp the competitive advantage available to us from the advances in, and convergence of, all the technologies we have invented. So, just like the Luddites[1] of the 19th century, we must now re-consider our options lest we continue sleepwalking towards our own demise accelerated by the onset of the pandemic.

Tags: Business_Wellness Centigo_UK COVID-19 WFH

Post COVID-19, Digital Acceleration

Posted by Kevin Bell on Jul 7, 2020 6:19:18 PM

As we emerge from beneath the shadow of COVID-19 and return to the workplace our thoughts begin to embrace the uncertainties that confront us. More especially, how best to quickly restart our organisations in an environment where the rules are yet undefined, but likely to be very different than before. What this pandemic has taught us is that we need to configure our organisations differently. They need to be much more agile, yet inherently more robust. And, we need to accelerate our restart process to claim first-mover advantage in a marketplace that will very likely be much smaller, more selective, more aggressive, and very much more competitive than before. All this speaks of an organisational model that has an inherently flatter structure, distributed leadership, wider spans of individual control, devolved authorities and accountabilities, higher levels of visibility and rapid decision-making capabilities. Intuitively, this means the business can be continually tuned to operate at maximum effectiveness as a closely knit entity without the historical stove-pipe behaviours, tribes and process encumbrances that have existed before. It also requires a closely aligned, properly integrated technology infrastructure to help support, enable and drive it. Welcome to digital acceleration!

Tags: Digital_Transformation Centigo_UK Business_Transformation COVID-19

Post COVID-19, Sweating the Assets

Posted by Kevin Bell on Jul 7, 2020 5:15:22 PM

Without a shadow of doubt COVID-19 has been the most devastating circumstance to hit the global business environment since The Great Depression which began in the USA on 4th September 1929 with a sudden dramatic fall in stock prices and subsequently led to the Wall Street stock-market crash of 29th October 1929 (Black Tuesday). Depending on who’s commentary you believe, the austerity caused by The Great Depression lasted up to the beginning of World War II, some ten years later, and drove down world GDP by an estimated 15%. By contrast, COVID-19 has been with us now for only six months and is widely being forecast1 to drive down the GDP of some major industrialised nations2 by almost the same percentage in 2020 alone. The ongoing effects will be felt for some years to come with uncertainty in the financial markets making access to capital increasingly difficult for businesses attempting to emerge from under the cloud of COVID-19 and return to full trading status.

Tags: Centigo_UK Business_Transformation COVID-19 Working_Capital

Post COVID-19, Place your bets!

Posted by Kevin Bell on Jun 17, 2020 9:00:00 PM

As business leaders we have all spent time postulating what the next “disruptor” might be and where it might come from. A “game changer”. Something that will create for us a “paradigm shift” in the business ecosystem.  Well, COVID-19 has certainly achieved all those benchmarks, though with none of the desired upsides we originally had in mind for the concept! Whilst we believe its origins to be in China, the virus has swept at enormous speed across the globe with a consummate disrespect for international borders like a tyrannical version of the “invisible hand” first described by the renowned economist Adam Smith in his magnus opus “The Wealth of Nations”1. Only this time, it was acting with malicious intent, toppling corporate empires as it went leaving behind it a wake of destruction and uncertainty in the economy. For most organisations demand has dried up as customers tighten their belts, operations have been suspended as they go into lockdown, people have been furloughed or lost forever to the job market, the supply base is falling into terminal disrepair and the best laid strategies, plans and aspirations of corporate executives in every sector lay in tatters before their eyes.

Tags: Centigo_UK Business_Transformation Change COVID-19

Post COVID-19, Recovery of Supply Chains

Posted by Kevin Bell on Jun 1, 2020 9:00:00 PM

Not since the shocking events of 9/111 have global supply chains been so systematically and unceremoniously devastated. No one could foresee the actions that unfolded that day which, within just twenty-four hours, brought air travel to a halt, locked down countries within their own borders and brought to a virtual standstill trading in all but the most vertically integrated businesses. Fortunately, the cause was quickly identified, contained and with the ongoing acceptance of some restrictions on our personal freedoms while travelling abroad normality quickly resumed. By contrast, COVID-19 has proven itself to be a tougher enemy. It is harder to contain, has shown contempt for international boundaries, market sectors or the size of businesses it affects. To deal with its transmission the UK has been on lockdown since 23rd March 2020. At best, for all but essential front-line workers, this has meant transferring all business operations to a “virtual world” involving aspects of self-isolation, social distancing and remote team working. In the extreme, it has meant the systematic mothballing of all business operations, temporary closure of business premises and the furloughing or in some cases complete loss of staff. Whilst devastating enough, the process of lockdown is nowhere near as complicated and difficult to navigate as that of returning a business and its supply chain to full trading status in the uncertain times of the “new normal” that now surrounds us.

Tags: Business_Wellness Centigo_UK Supply_chains COVID-19