Accessibility Links
UNIQUELY YOU TOGETHER HARRODS

When anything is possible, what can’t be done?

I remember returning back from maternity leave after having my son Finn back in 2014 and going out on the HR conference circuit to try and get my head out of nappies and rice cakes and back into the business of HR. I quickly picked up that there was a new buzz word or “buzz acronym” on the circuit that wasn’t as popular before I went on maternity leave - and that was the term VUCA. 

For those of you who may be less familiar with this acronym it stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. I distinctly recall thinking at the time that whilst these HR leaders and visionaries were telling me we were in a VUCA world, it just didn’t feel like it to me. Life was good, the economy had bounced back from the devastation of the financial crisis in 2008, the job market was buoyant, and the world of technology was offering us new ways to connect and communicate. This for me was exciting, times were good. It didn’t feel “VUCA” so the concept at the time felt quite abstract and conceptual for me, it felt like a buzz word. It doesn’t now. Today in these volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times, I get VUCA. I am living VUCA. We all are.

It seems fitting that VUCA actually started out as a military term, used by the US Army. It does indeed feel like we are almost in war times, fighting a war, rationing ourselves (not just on toilet rolls!) having others influence our movements (no pun intended…) and where we go. Except the battle ground is the whole world, the army is every single one of us and the invisible enemy is Covid-19.

In the face of this enemy we’ve witnessed the best and the worst us humans have to offer. From the people stealing toilet rolls from shopping trollies and physically attacking people for coughing on the northern line to the people who are putting themselves out each day to help those less fortunate than themselves, sharing much coveted hand sanitisers and attending to their lonely or vulnerable neighbours, then right though to those key workers in the NHS and other industries who risk their lives every day to keep ours going. My daughter Lola has just come off Facetime to my mum in Norfolk and found it highly amusing that Nanna has come back from what Lola is calling “Granny Hour” at Sainsbury's. Apparently all the customers were racing around like Olympic athletes in pursuit of the fresh bread and bananas. Alas, no toilet roll, no hand sanitiser but plenty of soap and community spirit.

For us at Harrods, we have had an army of our very own Harrodian heroes across the business working hard to keep our business going. People who made the lonely journey in each day to ensure we can keep our customers happy, keep our products moving and keep our business functioning. Life must have been surreal for our colleagues working so very hard in previously such busy airport environments but they adapted well and kept going. Our colleagues continue to work hard in our distribution teams to protect our future. Our colleagues in the world of kitchens and restaurants have been so flexible and resilient in the face of changing their environment to help areas elsewhere in Harrods and we’ve seen chef’s being amazing behind meat counters and our front of house teams fronting a new type of “house” with their colleagues in the food halls. And then we have our support teams embracing a new way of working as they move to a virtual world of work which will have felt strange, unfamiliar and probably quite lonely. We thank you all, we salute you, we applaud you, we are nothing without you. #weareone

I was so sad I couldn’t be there when we closed our doors a few weeks ago (I was self-isolating!) but the videos and photos I saw really made me reflect on the strong bonds that exist between our people and the power of the Harrodian spirit that exists as a green and gold thread uniting us all. It also made me reflect on the power of our Harrods values as they have been palpable across the business in every Teams call, in every conversation in every decision made, in every corner of our business. As one of the leaders in our business wrote to be in an email last week “What I would say is that now with everything that is happening, what do the values mean to me? Everything probably, they are part of who we are and who Harrods is in times like these, I have witnessed every value every day by everyone. I can’t say much more than that.”

As for me, I have just been sprayed with Dettol spray by my daughter and I am self-isolating at home with two restless children and a recovering husband. Tonight we had family reading time, something we have never done before and probably never would have dreamed of doing had we not been a world of self-isolation. This was something we all loved and made us feel reassured and connected in some way. As one of the people in Harrods responsible for communicating with colleagues across the business, I am working hard on how we keep each other reassured and connected in these VUCA times too. Interestingly, the VUCA concept has actually been adopted and adapted throughout businesses and organisations in many industries to guide leadership and strategy planning, especially in times of big change and disruption. The philosophy guides you to counter volatility with values, meet uncertainty with understanding, react to complexity with clarity and fight ambiguity with agility.

So, as Harrods, we will do our best to keep giving our colleagues clarity on our position and help with the understanding of all the information people need to know to keep themselves safe. We will stay agile and responsive to these changing times as each day unfolds. We ask our people to put their faith in our values to use these to navigate through these VUCA times with us. To be there for families, friends, colleagues and communities. 

At Harrods we have a clear purpose, to deliver the Art of the Possible, this is our starting position for everything. It is our purpose and the oxygen that keeps our flame burning and the magic flowing. I am confident we can get through this together, if there was ever a time to hold tight to our values and believe in the Art of the Possible, that time is now because when anything is possible, what can’t be done? #weareone #togetherharrods.
Similar Content
Food for thought
Food for thought
Today is Earth Day and the theme is climate action. Food waste is a serious...
Our message to you on Covid-19
Our message to you on Covid-19
Dear candidates,  As an employer, our primary consideration is to ensu...
We are Harrods
We are Harrods
We’re delighted to have won Employer Brand of the year at the Employe...
One team, one dream
One team, one dream
Hello, my name is Lee. I have worked at Harrods for six years. I am the Tea...

We are proud to have been awarded