Seven principles for implementing strategies in the new context

16 December 2020 Consultancy.eu
More news on

In a new whitepaper based on the views of 100+ executives across Europe, experts from consulting firm The Next Organization and executive search firm Consultive outline how businesses can implement strategies for remaining relevant in today’s rapidly changing world. A round-up of the key findings. 

The research is set against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the resultant disruption to everything from consumer behaviour to businesses to government bodies. It is imperative that organisations make fundamental changes to stay relevant. Here are seven principles to keep in mind when doing so.

Substantive scenario planning

Strategising is far from easy under pandemic conditions, with no inkling of what’s around the corner. A solution here is scenario-based modeling – planning for several contingencies or ‘scenarios’ at once. In this way, businesses can shift track at any time based on the scenario that is unfolding, be it with regards to performance or functionality.

Seven principles for implementing strategies in the new context

Co-creating the role of the office

The very idea of having an office has come to be questioned during the pandemic. Many businesses have come to view forced virtual working as a blessing in disguise, as productivity remains high and costs fall. For the researchers, businesses have an opportunity not only to optimise their use of office space, but to do so in collaboration with employees. After all “the work environment is a substantial influencer of the organisations’ culture and productivity.”

Transparent communication & networking

Covid-19 has forced many businesses to take drastic measures – including job cuts. Employees are left vulnerable as their job could come under the axe at any moment, while Stakeholders and consumers are anxious about where the business is going next. Leaders can’t offer all the answers, but the best strategy is to be transparent about whatever information is available.

“In short, transparency and honest dialogue stimulate security and loyalty. This applies not only to consumers concerning the origin of products but also to the internal process and the state of affairs.” In fact, the researchers suggest that transparency can create a scenario where employees, stakeholders, competitors and customers all form an extended network of collaborators. Unprecedented scenarios create the most unlikely of collaborators, and the idea to save a business might come from anywhere within this broad network. Communication and networking is key.

Agility & innovation

One thing is the sheer scale of change required in the wake of the pandemic. Consumer preferences have changed, as have their demands of value. Competitors are finding new ways of meeting these needs. Innovation is an imperative to change the value proposition and make sure consumers remain at the heart of a business.

The other driving force is the speed of change since the pandemic. The key realisation is that the market can change dramatically overnight, and businesses must be prepared to react. Innovation is important, but innovating at speed is crucial. For this, businesses must refocus everything from office usage to core functions with organisational agility as a priority.

Meaningful leadership

At times like these, leaders must dig deep and display their biggest strengths. While efficiency and decisiveness is key, leadership during a pandemic also requires compassion and humanity. Finding this balance is as crucial as it is challenging. “Provide an example for people, they do not follow what you are saying, but what you are doing.”

Multifunctional employability

As teams shrink during the pandemic, everyone must take on a bigger burden. Yes, employees were hired to serve a specific function, but all hands must be on deck during a crisis. In many cases, leaders will find that employees have a range of competencies that can be leveraged to stay afloat during the thick of the crisis. If not of use within a team, employees can be deployed in teams of a collaborator, creating a win-win scenario for all involved. This multifunctionality helps employees too, giving them a chance to develop and display their range of skills.

Digitalisation

If digitalisation was a reality before the pandemic, it is a necessity now. Everything from collaboration channels to customer contact is now virtual, and the better the digital infrastructure - the better the offering. Cloud technology can be used to speed things up, while artificial intelligence and automation can be used to optimise business functions.

Also to be noted is the power of data, be it regarding business performance or customer behaviour. Most organisations have vast pools of data, which can offer minute details of where the business is struggling. Using this power is crucial in the new normal. As businesses focus on this data and expand their digital infrastructure, it is also importantl that they invest in cyber security to ensure none of it falls in the wrong hands.

“Although your organisation is data-driven, people remain essential. They have to believe in it and work with it. Provide transparent communication and include them in the data-driven work process. People are often the main reason for data leakage, so invest in the data safety awareness of your employees,” concluded The Next Organization and Consultive researchers.

More information? Follow this hyperlink to view the full white paper of The Next Organization en Consultive.