STARTING your business during and after COVID-19

Over the last 16 years as a leadership consultant, I have seen many organisations across the globe applying effective crisis-response behaviours. These behaviours helped them to restart their business faster, more intelligently, and more successfully than others. Given that we find ourselves in the starting blocks, preparing for our next moves in a new social, economic, ethical, environmental, political, and technological landscape, the aim of my first and subsequent posts is to create a list of crisis-response behaviours that help you and your organisation to get things done, to get things right, and to do the right things. As an evidence-based and results-driven practitioner, I make sure that this list is not only based on my own experience but also integrates scientific evidence that has accumulated over the last decades and which holds true in a large variety of contexts. Feel free to share your insights that help people across the globe shaping a future in which we wish to evolve.

Response N° 1: Don’t forget about customer centricity

At the end, it is your current or future customers who decide whether your services or products create value to them. Unless you belong to a minority of organisations that have the power to shape and create customer needs, ignoring customer needs, forgetting to take a customer-centric approach, or creating customer blindness, as I call it, triggers problems that will multiply along the road. Every crisis is evolving over an arc of time with a starting point, a peak and an end. At each point, the needs of your clients are likely to shift. Customer blindness weakens your ability to identify these shifts and seize opportunities for incremental or transformational changes. Therefore, do NOT stop to ask the following questions:

  • What are your customers’ needs – now and in the future?
  • Why do you exist as perceived through the eyes of your customers – now and in the future?
  • What does success look like to your customers – now and in the future?
  • How do you need to act – now and in the future – to ensure your customers’ success?
  • What are your value propositions that are relevant – now and in the future?

Response N° 2: Create common ground and alignment

Your organisation is an ecosystem that consists of interrelated and interdependent parts. I have seen many organisations where the “head” ordered the “body” to move forward but the “feet” started to go backward. Among other causes, lack of common ground and alignment explains this metaphorical phenomenon. In many organisations I start my intervention by asking 4 seemingly simple questions:

1. Where are you now?
2. Where do you want to go?
3. How are you going to get there?
4. How do you know that you are getting there?

Most C-level executives and middle managers to whom I asked these questions assume that their answers, if taken individually, show a high level of alignment. My own data shows only 2 out of 6 people of Top Executives Teams provide similar answers that go in the same direction. Hence, do not assume that your teams are aligned and actively start to create common ground around the questions mentioned above. Moreover, once you agree on your vision and strategy (do you decide to be a survivor, an adaptor or a pioneer?), ensure that all the parts and functions within your organisation are in alignment with your strategy. Please ensure to create common ground when addressing the following questions:

  • Do you have the right organisational structure to pursue your strategy?
  • Is your reward system or other operational systems supporting your strategy?
  • Is your organisational culture in line with your strategy?
  • Are leadership styles adapted to bring about the desired changes?
  • Do your employees have the right competencies to pursue the strategy?

Response N° 3: Apply a results-based HRD approach

Many employees will need to acquire new skills in order to adapt to or shape new business environments. Sadly, many Human Resource Development (HRD) employees are not the strategic partner they should be in organisations because too little concrete evidence is produced to tie HR activities to the bottom line. As a consequence, HRD departments are under pressure of cost-cutting and scarce resources. In line with response 1 and 2, it is essential to:

  • Hire or train HR professionals to integrate HRD into the overall strategic framework of their organisation
  • Establish partnerships with key operating managers to ensure that employees are translating what they learn into actions that drive business results
  • Create a comprehensive measurement and evaluation process to capture the contribution of HRD
  • Participants understand their role to achieve results


Post preview:

My next post will be related to:

Pitfall N° 3: Cutting costs where you shouldn’t

Pitfall N° 4: Focus on the wrong problem (Framing error)

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