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U-turn as often as it takes to face forward

“You turn if you want to.

“The lady’s not for turning!”

It was one of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s most famous quotes.

Delivered to the Tory Party conference in October 1980.

40 years on, U-turns have been in great demand this summer.

And despite their perception, it’s an important aspect of communicating in business.

Read on.

What’s happened?

communicating in business, what happened, pink elephant communications

We saw a number in England.

For starters, having to wear face masks in shops.

Which was only after insisting it was an individual choice.

A-Level results which were issued and subsequently withdrawn.

Wearing masks in schools just days after saying they were unnecessary.

In Scotland, parting ways with a Chief Medical Officer who broke lockdown rules.

After initially defending her staying in post.

A decision to reopen schools as normal.

Despite weeks of planning for them to operate part-time.

Defending exam results.

Amending exam results.

It’s become a favourite sport of opposition parties and media commentators to play the blame game.

Highlighting every U-turn as a sign of weakness.

But these are strange times, requiring flexibility of thinking.

And flexibility of policies and actions.

Moving forward

communicating in business, moving forward, bill mcfarlan

From where I stand, it’s the companies and departments that are most flexible that will rebuild and move forward on the shifting sands of a pandemic.

Which looks to have a long way to go if left unchecked.

‘Adapt or die’.

A phrase wrongly attributed to Charles Darwin.

What he actually said was:

“It’s not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive…

“… but those who can best manage to change.”

I believe that goes for how we navigate our daily lives.

And how we run our businesses in future.

But how we communicate all of that is important.

Especially when moving beyond the stereotypical U-turn accusations.

Communicating in business

communicating in business, westminster

What the Westminster government has failed to do is repeat the Moral High Ground of the reasons for change often enough.

I’d suggest it needs to emphasise a willingness to adapt to the pandemic every minute of every day.

If only to save people from catching Covid-19 unnecessarily.

I rather feel Mrs Thatcher’s famous inflexibility would have been a drawback in today’s world.

Rather than an advantage.

Right now, I’d rather see a UK U-turn every day.

Compared to the rigid thinking gripping the United States in so many ways.

Because as Darwin put it:

“It’s not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive…

“…but those who can best manage to change.”


Bill McFarlan is co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can read his full profile here.

And click here for our Pink Elephant vlog on handling a crisis.


Photos in Communicating in business blog by BBC Radio 4 / CC BY-NC /  Santiago Sito / CC BY-NC-ND / on
Communicating in business blog edited by Colin Stone.

Communicating in business blog

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