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From Modernism to modernity: how the Antropophagy of ideas helped us to deal with crisis, by Matheus Tomio

06/25/2020 | 14h30
From Modernism to modernity: how the Antropophagy of ideas helped us to deal with crisis, by Matheus Tomio
Divulgation Divulgation

Oswald de Andrade, one of the great names of Brazilian literary Modernism, when proposing the Anthropophagic Manifest emphasized that an ideal of art based on Brazilian culture should be generated, but shaped with critically analyzed points of what was proposed abroad. That was more or less how the company Caravan Exportação e Importação do Brasil protected itself and reacted to the arrival of COVID-19 in Brazil: it was based on the corporate culture already established and on how foreign companies behaved in relation to the pandemic.

Caravan do Brasil is a trading company strategically located near to the Port of Itajaí, Santa Catarina, where for ten years it provides import, export and consultancy services, and actively participates in public and private tenders in three main areas: traffic, tactical and support material to oil and gas industry. The great diversification of the operating areas is the determining factor that has allowed the company to remain strong even during the Coronavirus pandemic. My father always told me not to keep my resources in only one place, because in times of crisis I would be very affected and eventually lose everything. I have seen this attitude in practice in the company where I work while we see countless others succumbing to the crisis.

I decided to refer to Anthropophagy, and not directly to the term benchmarking, because an analysis was not made only in the competition or in related companies, but in companies in general in countries where the virus first spread and it was observed the consequences for each measure taken. It was concluded that clear communication and "respect" for the potential of the virus is what would make us get around the adverse situation.



With the arrival of the home office, the unified - and open - system of access to information that the company uses has proved to be crucial. It was feared that social distance would negatively influence the effectiveness of communications. But everyone having access to all the information needed for the success of their activities allowed the work to be carried out with the same mastery as before - even better sometimes, because each one worked in his/her comfort zone and with flexible schedules. Understanding the individual needs of each employee allowed a more humane and altruistic treatment on the part of managers who reduced the workload of some employees who have children without changing their paycheck at the end of the month. Also, part of the next salary had been advanced in order to take precautions and make the necessary purchases in supermarkets, as we did not know how the supply of cities would be influenced in our region. Also, virtual assistance had been made available with the company's therapist, which allowed everyone to get our heads together in spite of so much change: in one month the economy was booming, the Ibovespa index breaking records reaching 119 thousand points and the dollar quoted at R$ 4.16. In the following month, Ibovespa reaching rock bottom at 63 thousand points and the dollar breaking records, being quoted at R$ 5.89.

There's no denying that the import sector almost stagnated in the period due to the highs in the dollar and instability in the global economy. However, this allowed an organization of internal processes to be carried out in order to optimize future processes and allow a more agile project management, which had not been possible in the rush of the day-to-day activities in which we were involved until then. It is possible to think of a retraction in the company's revenues and the consequent dismissal of employees. But where a door closes a window opens: another employee was hired. As I said earlier, the great versatility of the company's areas of activity has proved to be crucial: maintaining order, health and public safety has not been so needed for a long time, and we also decided to go into the universe of private biddings - this is an area relatively new for the company to which we were still studying feasibility but it has shown itself very promising in practice.

With the resumption of commerce in Santa Catarina in mid-April, the company once again listened to its employees: only those who were comfortable with the situation would return to the work routine in the company's environment. Those who eventually did not want to, would not be obliged and nothing would change in their relationship or remuneration. Upon returning to the office, all recommendations from the Ministry of Health were passed on to employees and cloth masks and hand sanitizer were made available to everybody.

Therefore, apply Anthropophagy/benchmarking is not only vital to increase the competitiveness of a company, but also to allow it to remain operational and maintain the welfare and health of its employees in times of crisis. The best attitude at these times is to be human.

About the author: Matheus Tomio is a Petroleum Engineer recently graduated from Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina - UDESC; he is finishing his MBA in Project Management, and also his second degree in Mechanical Engineering. At Caravan Exportação e Importação do Brasil LTDA, he works as a Project Analyst and is responsible for product development and negotiations with international suppliers.

Font: Matheus Tomio
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