COMBAT COVID-19: Reframe

Published: 6 April 2020

REFRAME – Definition: To create a new or different way of looking at a situation, person or relationship by redefining its meaning (‘meaning’: obtained through a recalibration process).

Over time we develop behaviours based on assumptions and assessments of our environment. Once that environment changes it forces every person to challenge those convictions, recalibrate its meaning, and alter their response to it. ReFrame.

“Our key to transforming anything, lies in our ability to reframe it.” (Marianne Williamson)

All businesses, especially SMEs need to continuously reframe in order to survive and now happens to be one of those times. Our world as we know it has changed forever. The information provided over the past couple of months by local and international governments and institutions, albeit more negative than positive, has one recurring motive – protecting all people everywhere. #flattenthecurve. #stayhome. A shared purpose, a common goal, resulting in an unprecedented knock on the economy.

Drastic changes have been made (some earlier than others) and although done so with noble intention and questionable success, many people will face immeasurable hardships for years to come as a result thereof. But, ‘Adversity breeds Opportunity’ and the difference between the ‘thrivers’ and the ‘survivors’ lies in their ability to Reframe.

There are two commonly accepted reframing processes: putting an object in a new frame; or enlarging (changing) the frame, to fit a new object. The process of reframing your reality can be achieved through considering:


Most thought leaders refer to this time as the beginning of the new ‘normal’ – for better or worse. For some of the changes it is easy to spot the ‘for better’ – and others just seem ‘for worse’ – but these problems are rarely unsurmountable. It is herein that lies the true genius: being the first to identify the change in parameters and then seizing the opportunity with more passion and determination than anyone else.

Most business owners are great at identifying the problems and implementing clear solutions to get it done. The real opportunity, however, needs to be explored by taking a step back. Reframing the problem to not focus on the current process or inputs (i.e. “sum of 5 plus 5”) but rather focus on the outcome (i.e. “what numbers add up to 10”) can open up infinite solutions.

It is important to: establish boundaries by understanding how wide (or narrow) you should throw the net; identify constraints on how big (or small) your appetite is for risk; the scope of what you consider in (or out of) bounds?


When change affects everyone, it is not only addressing the needs of a new market you should concern yourself with, but the needs of your current market which might have completely changed. This might not only have a direct impact on execution but often fundamentally affect the business strategy. Every business claims to be customer focused, but when it gets tough, are they really putting the customer first?

Before implementing any new strategies, cut through the noise and clutter and speak to your customer to understand what problems they are actually experiencing. Before launching any new products or services, it is important to assess which customer challenges you want to address. Seizing these opportunities will result in some wins which creates momentum.

The shift therefore is to: engage physically often, digitally by exception; experiment with everything, but focus on the few initiatives that will address the needs of the customer; provide a service for the individual and product(s) for the masses.


People have different responses to stress. While some retreat and desperately cling to the known and predictable others run towards the proverbial fire, eager to play their part in the disaster management. The key is to identify those individuals who thrive under pressure. A pressured environment can inspire people to come up with creative and innovative solutions. This pressure is often achieved by tight deadlines or unstable environments – such as the one we are currently experiencing.

Only focusing on what you are good at, can easily become the straight jacket that will suffocate a business. Many small businesses will enter their biggest challenge yet, for others – this will create the ideal environment that will propel them to the next level. In order to be part of the latter, choose your investor and management teams wisely.

Once your core teams have been identified, unleash them to: expand on their existing strengths and capabilities; be creative in crafting the strategy; and innovative in seeking solutions which will result in success.

Written By Erin Louw, Retail Capital Chief Brand Officer.