“The future ain’t what it used to be” – Yogi Berra
If the 2020 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we can move very quickly if we need to. Organisations have reconfigured processes and organised their people to work in different ways.
Many business-as-usual approaches to serving customers, working with suppliers, and collaborating with colleagues—or just getting anything done— would have failed. They had to increase the speed of decision making, while improving productivity, using technology and data in new ways, and accelerating the scope and scale of innovation.
Some have done so very successfully. Some have impacted customer service and seen unsustainable impacts on their people.
We need to move from panic induced re-configuration to being able to make substantial changes more easily.
CEOs from a number of organisations found the changes liberating:
“Decision making accelerated when we cut the nonsense. We make decisions in one meeting, limit groups to no more than nine people, and have banned PowerPoint.”
“I asked on Monday, and by Friday we had a working prototype.”
“We have increased time in direct connection with teams—resetting the role and energizing our managers.”
“We adopted new technology overnight— not the usual years—as we have a higher tolerance for mistakes that don’t threaten the business.”
So how do we move this from “business unusual” to a systemic capability?
This take place across three dimensions:
- Leaders enable, not direct
- Flexible roles
- Multi-team contribution
- Enable human connection
- Design for the customer
- Enable teams to do continuous improvement
- Rapid innovation and experimentation in incremental ways
- Flatten structures
- Speed up decision making
- Fewer performance measures
Although the pandemic has cost society and business dearly, it has shown us what we are capable of. We should not waste what we have learned by yearning for a return the “old normal”, when we can create a more exciting future.
- Shaun Schmidt, Senior Client Executive