Coronavirus has increased the speed of decision making — while improving productivity, using technology new ways, and accelerating the scale of innovation. And it worked. Organizations in a wide range of sectors and geographies have accomplished difficult tasks and pivoted in record time.
At the heart of each of these changes is speed — getting things done fast, and well. Business owners have removed boundaries and broken down silos in ways no one thought was possible. They have streamlined decision-making and processes, and empowered frontline workers.
Because of the pandemic, leadership teams have embraced technology and data, reinvented core processes and adopted new collaboration tools. Technology and people are interacting in new ways, and it is at the heart of the new operating model for business — and of creating an effective post pandemic organization.
So is speed. An organization designed for speed will see powerful outcomes, including greater customer responsiveness, enhanced capabilities, and better performance, in terms of cost efficiency, revenues, and return on capital. The speedy company might also find it has a higher sense of purpose and improved organizational health. These outcomes are possible, but not guaranteed.
As companies adopt new ways of working quickly, executives are taking new approaches to decision-making and ways of working. Gone are the days of waiting around for best practices to emerge. CEOs recognize the need to shift to an adrenaline-based need for speed during COVID-19.
Many leaders have had to reinvent during the pandemic. Here are some tactics we’ve leaned into in the past few months:
1. Execute! Frontline employees need to take on more responsibility for execution, action, and collaboration. Employees must be equipped with the right skills and mindset to solve problems, instead of waiting to be told what to do.
2. Decide! The pandemic has demonstrated that it is possible to make decisions faster without breaking the business. What this means is fewer meetings and fewer decision makers in each meeting. The idea is simple: organizations that adapt and move fastest have the advantage.
3. Empower! Having one fast, agile team is helpful, but having many of them across an enterprise, and enabling them with the right structures, processes, and culture, makes it possible for the entire business to move faster.
4. Lead! One of the unexpected consequences of the pandemic is that CEOs have seen into a window that shows who their future leaders are. In many cases people who rose to the occasion and helped lead the crisis-response and plan-ahead strategies are winning.
5. Learn! Forward-thinking companies are now developing leadership and critical thinking skills at different levels of the organization, increasing their employees’ capacity to engage with technology and use advanced analytics, and building functional skills for the future.
6. Partner up! For partnerships to be successful, the relationship must be built on deep trust. Trust allows each partner to confidently integrate their processes, enabling them to find solutions, make decisions quickly, and execute efficiently.
The coronavirus pandemic is one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime. The time for organizations to build for speed is now. This will be a long process and leaders must recognize that many of their familiar business operations will need to be reimagined.
Many companies, at least initially, thought of the post pandemic return as an event; they would turn the lights on and go back to work just as they had done before. However, returning to work will be a process that could take a year or more, and many cannot go back to the way that it “used to be”.
Companies need to seize the moment to reimagine and reinvent the future, building new skills and capabilities to come back strong. Even well-run companies may find that they need to reinvent themselves more than once.
Need help with your return to the “new normal”? Let’s chat about how our slingshot strategy can put your business in a position to thrive and grow. We’re here to help. Set up a time to chat, here!