There’s never been a more important time to think strategically.
Life changed in mid-March, seemingly in the blink of an eye. Now, as the country reopens, there’s an opportunity for company leaders to reflect on what they want to bring forward into the “new normal,” what should be left behind and what new opportunities should be added. In our work with clients through this Great Reset, these five things have stood out as essentials that sustained their companies through the past few months and will continue to serve them well in the future. As you consider what’s next for your business, it’s worth considering how these elements might fit into your firm’s future.
Nothing clarifies the mind quite like a crisis. As the coronavirus shut down entire economies, we suddenly had to reassess what was truly essential for survival. For the businesses we’ve worked with, this has meant a laser focus on three key areas – their core operations, their clients and their people.
Leaders have established the metrics that help them keep a pulse on the health of their organizations and have monitored them continuously for any early warning signs of issues. In addition to measures like profit, revenue, cash flow and utilization rates, they are tracking leading indicators as well. For example, studies have shown current employee engagement to have a powerful link to customer satisfaction, which in turn drives future revenue prospects.
To track these metrics, leaders have been exceptionally visible with their clients and internal team, strengthening relationships and maintaining open lines of communication.
What critical indicators of the health of your business should you continue to focus on?
The speed with which the coronavirus shut down our personal and professional lives was stunning — traffic jams turned to deserted streets and empty parking lots overnight. When it was no longer possible to operate business as usual, we saw companies quickly pivot into new ways of working together and serving their clients. Initiatives that may have taken months to implement previously had to be operational in a matter of days. This became possible through greater collaboration, an openness to new ideas and streamlined decision-making.
How can your company carry forward a more agile mindset?
For some companies, their core business couldn’t take place during the shutdown. Whether formally or intuitively, many took a design thinking approach by focusing on the changing needs of their existing customers or broadening the definition of their traditional customer and then aligning their offerings to meet them. For circle S it meant the development of workshops designed to help clients navigate the new virtual world. The feedback from participants and the lessons learned have led us to consider additional offerings in this format.
How will your company encourage innovation in the future?
For many companies, the timeline of having a remote workforce changed from someday to today overnight. With work-life and home-life suddenly taking place in the same space, forward-thinking companies have responded with understanding that productivity in this new normal may look different than it did a few months ago. Working with employees to find a path that serves the business and their personal needs has created a greater sense of connection than a lot of the perks that previously seemed essential. Not that those things need to go away, but they’re no substitute for flexibility and understanding.
Could greater flexibility strengthen your culture in the future?
One area that’s clearly been prioritized by leading companies during the lockdown is communication. In the face of so much uncertainty, these firms doubled down on outreach to their employees, clients, partners and communities. Regularly scheduled virtual meetings, one-to-one check-ins from leaders, emails, social media posts, blog articles — the list goes on. Companies remained present and visible with all of their stakeholders by reaching out with greater frequency. The character of the communications changed as well, with empathy on full display. Showing a strong EQ, company leaders have shared their own experiences and concerns as they model resilience for their teams and seek to reassure their customers.
How can your firm communicate more effectively going forward?
Where to Start?
In our strategic consulting engagements with clients, one exercise we often use is “Stay-Go-New.” In the STAY column, workshop participants list all the things that are essential to the company’s existence – the elements you’d save in a fire, so to speak. The GO column contains all the things that no longer serve the company – outdated policies and “how we’ve always done it” thinking. Finally, the NEW column is an opportunity to declare a bold new vision and establish what’s needed to get there. These three lists can help guide you in shaping your firm for the future.
As states and businesses now move toward reopening, we have a unique opportunity to reflect on the lessons of the Great Reset. And while the day-to-day needs of keeping our people safe and our businesses operating are pressing, it’s an opportune time for leaders to think strategically about how they want their companies to operate. What stays? What can we leave behind? What should be added? How can we learn and grow from this remarkable experience?