From reaction to sustainable change, strategies to capitalize the lessons we learnt
Last year was all about reaction. Businesses had to change their pace to adapt to a new world order. A year after the pandemic started, we are challenged to embrace and build on those changes. How do we leverage this new reality and drive long-term results?
Since March 2020, and the subsequent months, we witnessed numerous changes in a large part of the value chain of businesses. Common resistance and fear were moved into the background. Companies did not count with the right systems for remote working but transitioned to it in just a few days. Some companies which used to operate mainly through physical channels strengthened their digital capacities. Additionally, new commercial strategies and quests for efficiency that, perhaps, would have hardly been implemented were deployed in the face of the economic crisis and its associated risks.
Some of these changes were already part of the agenda for the next three years. Others were prioritized but ended up being replaced by a long list of excuses and never saw the light. However, an unexpected worldwide event forced these changes to happen overnight.
It was not the new technology, an innovative methodology, or a detailed plan: it was the pandemic that speeded up a great number of business trends.
This new modus operandi is unusual, without the urgency and need to react most organizations operating in normal conditions costs, and ensure operations so as to survive would have acted differently. Far from perfect, these were the right answers at the right time.
Changing vs. Reacting
Both people and organizations tend to react to crisis, threats, or risk. We respond quickly to change course by developing plans and solutions, most of the times effectively.
However, these solutions are usually a reaction rather than a change. Reaction has a short-term impact, however, unlike planned changes, it is harder to sustain in time.
Most of the actions and the initiatives that were put into practice soon after the pandemic can be considered reactions triggered by the need to maintain wages, reduce in the midst of a critical situation.
Today, a year after the pandemic new questions arise. How can we transform these reactions into changes that can be sustained in time? How can the developments that took place in 2020 work as a Minimum Viable Product, a basis to build on? How could we transform the new processes and built capacities into the coveted prize we all want to obtain?
Look ahead, inside and out
We now face a new challenge. We need to be ready to offer solutions and improve our current product. We have the chance to look further to develop a winning strategy after the lesson learnt in the last months.
What percentage of our sales will be driven by digital channels in five years? How will logistics respond to demand changes? How and where will employees work?
2020 may have given us an opportunity to try, fail and learn. Today, those learnings are the key to answer more accurately all these questions and set the proper goals.
At the same time, we have the opportunity to look beyond. How did other players in different industries behave under similar circumstances? Such was the need for innovation that a great number of new ideas and solutions arose. We were only able to identify those ideas and solutions that were close in the eye of the storm. Now more than ever, we need to learn from others.
Finally, we have the opportunity to look inside. Which behaviors, attitudes and mindsets changed to allow us to act in time? What obstacles did we overcome to bring about change? How do we drive a deeper transformation through our past learnings to meet our future ambitions?
Individuals and companies alike, witnessed an amazing and unimaginable capacity to adapt. We were able to collaborate and co-create solutions as a whole, we were able to change processes rapidly to continue operating, we learned to use new tools and we changed the way of doing things. Many of these values helped us strengthen company culture. Now the challenge lies on how to generate the necessary levers to uphold those values in the long run.
We lived challenging times in 2020, critical in many cases: we drove changes and overcame situations we could have never imagined.
Now, with a different perspective, those companies which were able to capitalize on the lessons learnt are the ones that will have a competitive advantage over the rest. We must create companies capable of strengthening what we have built, identify what to maintain and develop new and different capacities to prepare for the upcoming challenges.
Manager at Tandem.