If you solve enough problems, you get to come home!

Cineworld’s strapline “Evolution isn’t for everyone” advertising The Croods 2 set me thinking about our recent and current online developments. As for most of you, Covid represented a perilous journey into the unknown for us. Our retail furniture showrooms in Bray would be closed for many months. 

I was reminded of another film, The Martian, where the astronaut marooned on Mars says something like “you solve one problem, then you solve the next problem, and the next, and if you solve enough problems, you get to come home.” 

The challenge for us was how could we adapt, bring the team and all stakeholders with us, and grow through it?

Thanks in no small way to Enterprise Ireland’s online Retail Scheme, we got a financial helping hand and access to expertise that otherwise seemed to be beyond our resources. But the biggest challenge for Damian Kerins, my business partner, and I was how to bring the team along with us into an area that we knew little about: how to add to this team, involve external expertise, and do it remotely for the most part. Some on the team would be happy with this evolution and some would be less so.

Pope Francis talks about a good shepherd being ahead of his sheep, with his sheep, and behind his sheep. 

For “shepherd” read “leader” and for “sheep” read “team and stakeholders”.

So what did we learn?


  •   As leaders, we cannot just run along with the team and see how things will turn out.
  •  A leader needs to paint a vision, articulate it, give direction, and lead by example.


  •  But not “ahead” as in an office with a closed door and at a distance.
  •  We cannot just drop an instruction on staff without offering help.
  • We must help carry some of the burdens, explain and encourage again and again on the bad days, and shine a light on best practice as shown on their best days.


  •  Sometimes we need to go behind the team, as it were, to the rear
  • Perhaps it’s to help those who are a little slower on their journey. Or maybe those who are temporarily wounded or discouraged due to “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”.

And what was the outcome?

  • Well, over the twelve months we have expanded, adding 4 more to our small team.
  • We focussed on acquiring digital expertise, working with a small local digital company, and now have a remote team to guide us weekly, some of whom we have yet to meet in person.
  • The constant challenges of communication still remain and require time and patience.
  • We learned how spending more intentional time with our people and stakeholders is like storing up trust and good will that can be drawn upon when it becomes a battlefield.
  • And, happily, results have been encouraging: we have sold more online in the first six months of 2021 than we sold online in the previous two years combined.

The journey continues. Challenges and opportunities evolve but we are not afraid.

If anyone has any questions please feel free to email me or call in to our showrooms in Bray:


Flanagan Kerins, Bray Retail Park, Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow A98 W985