Covid-19 has accelerated organizational change by some years and that’s sensational

Let’s surf this massive wave together and embrace change.

Just read a useful McKinsey article about reimagining your business for the post-Covid world. I found the discussion around organizational dynamics – Who we are – How we work – How to grow – resonated.

Who we are. In a crisis, what matters becomes very clear, very fast. Strategy, roles, personal ownership, external orientation, and leadership that is both supportive and demanding—all can be seen much more clearly now. The social contract between the employee and employer is, we believe, changing fundamentally. “It will matter whether you actually acted to put the safety of employees and communities first,” one CEO told us, “or just said you cared.” One noticeable characteristic of companies that have adapted well is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for, beyond shareholder value, and how to get things done right.”

Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for, beyond shareholder value, and how to get things done right.”

For a while now people have been talking about purpose-led management where people ‘know what the company stands for.’ Everyone in the business, including Boards and Senior Leadership teams, need to be involved in the conversations around purpose. We build management software but that’s not our purpose. We need to provision management software that helps agencies deliver health, education, housing, law enforcement, social services, and more, in the most effective way, and help private companies satisfy their customers, and grow. Without understanding your purpose – the reason you exist – we can’t truly understand why we should exist.

Without understanding your purpose – the reason you exist – we can’t truly understand why we should exist.

How we work. Many leaders are reflecting on how small, nimble teams built in a hurry to deal with the COVID-19 emergency made important decisions faster and better. What companies have learned cannot be unlearned—namely, that a flatter organization that delegates decision making down to a dynamic network of teams is more effective. They are rewiring their circuits to make decisions faster, and with much less data and certainty than before. In a world where fast beats slow, companies that can institutionalize these forms of speedy and effective decentralization will jump ahead of the competition.”

This ties into the comment a senior manager said to me during lock-down and it was “that paper had reached its limit for their organization”. He’d seen a new world with fewer rules, fewer layers, data streaming to where it needed to go, decisions being made at the front-line, all supported by agile, engaged teams. And he wanted to explore this further not return to the pre-Covid world. In an anxious world he was optimistic about what their organization could look like.

Many leaders are reflecting on how small, nimble teams built in a hurry to deal with the COVID-19 emergency made important decisions faster and better.

“Organizations are also showing a more profound appreciation for matching the right talent, regardless of hierarchy, to the most critical challenges. In an environment with strong cost pressures, successful leaders will see the value in continuing to simplify and streamline their organizational structures. Experience has shown a better way, with critical roles linked to value-creation opportunities and leadership roles that are much more fluid, with new leaders emerging from unexpected places: the premium is placed on character and results, rather than on expertise or experience. This can only work, however, if the talent is there. To hire and keep top talent, the scarcest capital of all, means creating a unique work experience and committing to a renewed emphasis on talent development.”

This brings to mind the statement ‘hire the best people then get out of their way’. There are lots of stories about your productive people being even more productive working-from-home. The smart organizations seem to be encouraging a mix of in-office and out-of-office arrangements – testing to see what works. It’s even more apparent that people need to own their work-plans and be able to use technology to keep others in the loop, rather than continually being distracted by on-line catch-up meetings. We think that people need genuinely integrated work management solutions rather than a whole mix of social connections tools. In many respects it’s less about workplace and more about work. Let talent emerge through work, innovation and performance.

Organizations are also showing a more profound appreciation for matching the right talent, regardless of hierarchy, to the most critical challenges.

How to grow. Coming out of the crisis, organizations must answer important questions about growth and scalability. Three factors will matter most: the ability to embed data and analytics in decision making; the creation of learning platforms that support both individual and institutional experimentation and learning at scale; and the cultivation of an organizational culture that fosters value creation with other partners.

Those organizations that are making the shift from closed systems and one-to-one transactional relationships to digital platforms and networks of mutually beneficial partnerships have proved more resilient during the crisis. “Every business is now a technology business, and what matters most is a deep understanding of the customer, which is enabled by technology,” remarked a retail CEO.”

Three factors will matter most: the ability to embed data and analytics in decision making; the creation of learning platforms that support both individual and institutional experimentation and learning at scale; and the cultivation of an organizational culture that fosters value creation with other partners.

Value creation and innovation enabled by data seems to be the key to growth. The concept of ‘enter-once – use many times’ makes a whole lot of sense as does a willingness by people at every level of the business to share information that may – just may – help others do their work. We’ve been exploring various ways to support this including Storyboarding, intelligent #tagging & conversations.

What we are discovering is that with very little effort, and minimal disruption, there are huge upsides. New ways of working remove barriers and allow people to work – better – together. People want and need to work with others.

Tap into that and let them!

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