If you'd made a time capsule last March predicting where the world would be now, what would it have said?
If the last year has been a lesson in anything, it has been a lesson in the true meaning of agility. In fact, I'd go further than that. I'd go so far as to say it's been a lesson in the extreme sport of 'agility with compassion', as every single person in our team and every single business across our community experienced entirely new challenges.
Before any of us had heard of Covid-19, one of our primary functions as a business support organization was to help the hundreds of businesses we support, and have supported over a quarter of a century, continue to trade as robustly as possible with the impending uncertainty of Brexit. And how to be 'comfortable' with that. At the time, that was all we could do – the situation could have had any outcome. Little did we know how much uncertainty was to come and how much we and our teams would be navigating an even more uncertain 2020 and 2021 than we could ever have anticipated.
Looking back at last March, there was just so much we didn't know. Looking at the next four weeks, there's just so much we don't know. We need extraordinary resilience in the face of uncertainty. Our premium East Sussex peer networking group, The Bamboo Club, was named for just that quality – bamboo grows deep roots, to garner resources from deep down in the face of infertile soils, and bends to cope with the variations of sometimes extreme climate.
We're continuing to focus on strategies to support our team with the ongoing challenges of Covid, whilst continuing to be available, as ever, to support you. It's been wonderful to be back in the centres over the last few weeks and start to have those unexpected, magical moments in a kitchen chat, in passing in a corridor, while filling up a water bottle, or while having a coffee. Things that just don't and can't happen over Zoom. An old mentor of mine used to call these chance meetings 'social acupuncture' – where an unexpected nudge to a system can transform the whole thing – and they generally can't be planned for or scripted.
The past year has shown us that our ecosystem at Sussex Innovation is so rich, our network so strong – and we see such transformation through the connections that the businesses we serve make with each other. We are delighted that you are all part of it, and that slowly we are coming back together. Not that the socially distanced walks, phone calls, Zoom calls and Teams calls and haven't been great…but we're naturally social creatures.
And, meanwhile, everyone in our team did make predictions last year. We're opening our time capsule this week before the current Catalyst team departs, and will let you know the weird, wonderful and perhaps - who knows - scarily prescient contents soon.