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Coronavirus – what remains in place and what needs to change

Is it time to reset strategy, re-galvanise leadership, re-motivate employees and redefine how operating processes need to adjust?

Undoubtedly the impact of the pandemic has caused a discontinuity in society and in business. How companies respond will dictate their future. The trauma of lockdown has caused a bizarre two paced business world – either full on flat out operational mayhem or stop!

Day to day operations has clearly dominated the short term agenda, quite rightly, but with lockdown easing a pure short term focus will need to shift to one that resets the business model for a company so it is set for sustainability and can be counted among the winners rather than the victims.

Yes it is time to reset!

Done the right way, such efforts can create a new impetus and a buzz for staff, despite the ongoing uncertainty that will continue to surround us. With the full involvement of leaders and employees, people will be energised as they see the organisation looking forward.

Our “Making organisations more effective” framework may help you organise your thoughts and structure your plans.

There are 4 main aspects upon which to focus when considering the effectiveness of an organisation. These govern the quality of human interaction of the system and hence its effectiveness. All of these aspects will have come under pressure, and some shown wanting, in the pandemic and require attention as we move out of lockdown

First up is Strategy – the clarity of direction and the degree of alignment and commitment of leaders to deliver that strategy

Strategy plays an important role in framing an organisation’s actions and it is most effective as a driving force when it is co-created by the leadership. In times of crisis it is this co-creation that develops the “in it together” spirit needed to lead the organisation to sustainability.

Most organisations will probably have a pretty clear view by now of where they sit in terms of product offer and company financials in the new world, but what are the strategic implications of that positioning and how do leaders and employees respond. Employees know the world has changed and beyond anything else, right now they need a message and direction they can believe in – they need to know their leaders are on it and all agreed on where the company is headed.

How clear is your strategy, your message to employees and customers, and how aligned is your leadership behind that direction?

What are the prospects for the current product offer and are they still relevant in the new world?

Next: Leadership – the clarity of expectations around what it means to be a leader now in the organisation

Leaders are instrumental in shaping an organisation’s culture and in ensuring the effectiveness of implementation of any given strategy. Employees not only need to know direction but they also need to know how to operate in the new world. They get these cues from their leaders. Leaders need to show the way so setting expectations of leaders in this new world is key to success.

What are the implications for your leaders in the new world? Are these clear and understood?

Third aspect: Culture – the vibrancy and tone of the organisation and how individuals interact

The underlying beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of interacting create the unique culture of an organisation. In times of discontinuity these factors become strained and can break. The quality and speed of change and recovery is dependent on the receptivity of the culture in which it is being implemented. A common, and much quoted saying is that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” - don’t assume things can be the same in the new world, many will be working at a distance from others, under strain and normal levels of engagement can’t be taken as given.

What are you doing to nurture the culture of your organisation as you move to the next phase of the pandemic?

Which beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of interacting need to stay the same and which need to change?

Finally, but importantly: Operations – the mechanics. The suitability of processes, systems and structures that enable the organisation to operate effectively

Processes, systems and structure are the fundamental mechanics needed to operationalise and deliver strategy. These will in all likelihood have been profoundly affected by Covid 19. This is the starting point, but solutions need to be formed in the context of the new order of things not just quick fixes and not just dropping back into old ways of doing. .

What of the old should remain in place and what needs to change?

What are the financial implications of current performance and future plans?

Control

It is not all about diagnostic and intention it also has to be about making sure implementation works. You need what we refer to as Control. This is the rhythm and decision making mechanisms that keep the organisation and any changes on track and govern the rate of improvement.

Are your governance and decision making processes fit for purpose post-covid?

Using these simple questions to facilitate discussions in your organsation will ensure a speedy and targeted plan for the way forward out of the current crisis many organisations find themselves in. Email Steve (steveholt@serac-partners.com) to find out more.

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Making Organisations More Effective

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