How do you know?
Everybody scrambled to keep their businesses functioning as we headed into lockdown. Many of us were not prepared for a working model that removed our personnel from direct line-of-sight. Tools like Zoom took a hammering as we looked to keep contact with our people dressed in tracksuits and working out of bedrooms and lounges. Like many of us interested in organizational dynamcs I’ve been involved in post-lockdown conversations with teams, starting with the question ‘what did you learn?’ But I’ve realized that’s not necessarily the right conversation-starter because it’s too easy to focus on the mechanisms of survival and ignore the questions of productivity.
So perhaps the following questions are more to the point.
- Are you extracting real value from Working. Better. Together?
2. Are you ready for the next big event?
3. How do you know?
“One silver lining of the Covid-19 crisis has been to show businesses how to manage better and achieve greater speed, quality, and cost control. A wartime mindset — decisive crisis management, scenario planning, and a human reflex attuned to the shocks affecting employees—has been the hallmark of leaders so far. Now, as the world feels its way toward recovery and new opportunities, another risk looms. It is that inertia will set in, along with a longing for a return to the operating style of pre-crisis days.”
…by adopting a transformational mindset, companies accomplish so much more than they think they can. Rather than aiming for a 5% improvement, shoot for 20% to unlock energy and performance gains. Fortune 2020.
Are we ready for the next event? The next lockdown? This question is critical because it seems certain, based on the spread of Covid-19, there will be another major global event or a continuation of the current one. That is the nature of our connected-up world. If that’s the case then people will increasingly make employment decisions based on the culture of organizations and one critical aspect of that culture is how they are supported in working, better, together with managers and colleagues during periods of change and stress.
The ideal is that the management frameworks and approaches that immediately kick into place when people need, or want, to work from home look and feel the same as they do when they are working in the office. This then allows organizations to support flexible work arrangements during the good times and react appropriately during the more challenging times. It’s important we give ourselves options rather than be driven by stress-laden urgency and feel out-of-control.
The ideal is that the management frameworks and approaches that immediately kick into place when people need, or want, to work from home look and feel the same as they do when they are working in the office.
If you involve all your people in these conversations, about your future and theirs, then some common themes quickly emerge.
1. The ‘Zoom’ phenomenon served to demonstrate just how important it is for people to have control over their individual work-plans and be able to keep managers and colleagues up-to-date with the state-of-play, and advise on any burning issues they might need help with.
2. Individual work-plans should interleave with an organization-wide suite of connected-up plans. It’s only when you achieve this that your Executives, with full disclosure, can steer the ship.
3. Automated information flows in real-time will minimize additional workloads and maximize ‘value-from-anywhere’. Data supercharges the business.
4. Collecting learnings, ideas and conversations will enable you to share with everyone inside, and outside, of your business. Now is definitely not the time to hold onto ‘IP.’ We need to share ideas, experiments and successes with the world.
This is the most exciting time for organizations in a generation. As managers and staff we can all contribute to healthy and more balanced approaches to working together. The organizations that don’t buy into this will, in all likelihood, fail. We must focus on positioning ourselves for success, now. The strategies and plans to achieve this must support truth-in-plain-sight – a no-surprises, no-frills, incredibly engaging approach to organizational change now – and tomorrow.
And there’s the opportunity. The world of management has changed forever but it’s also opened up an unprecedented opportunity to explore ways of working that were out of bounds before Covid-19. Nothing is now out of bounds. The new book of management hasn’t been written. Hopefully our responses are so dynamic that no one person becomes that author. No one claims the right to advise others. We all write chapters. And we share that thinking; those powerful case studies, free-of-charge. Because that’s what the world needs right now.
“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.” Paul Hawken.