Written by: Jarlath Dooley, People Success Director, Version 1.
While there is good news emerging on the vaccine front, any talk of ‘old normal’ is misplaced. COVID-19 has changed the way we work, where we work and how we do business, permanently. So while we will return to ‘normal’, it will be a new normal. Similar to the internet explosion in the early 2000s, those who misread it as just another marketing/communications channel quickly saw their business demise, whilst those who saw it as the opportunity to devise new business models went on to succeed. This is no different, we were on a digital path Pre-COVID but since March, we have accelerated into digital overdrive.
The challenge for businesses now is to move from ‘acting’ like a digital business and move into ‘thinking and designing’ as a digital business. This covers all aspects of the business from premises strategy, to connectivity and security, to designing a digital sales process to new leadership approaches to productivity tools and so on. Virtually, all aspects need to be re-thought with the aim of:
1) Automating mundane tasks.
2) Enabling productivity across a dispersed workforce.
3) Nurturing strong digitally based relationships with customers.
4) Engaging a remote workforce and creating an agile culture.
5) Designing new ways of working.
This cannot be achieved centrally with a traditional top-down, transformation programme; the depth of change is just too big for this approach. Regardless, this approach has proven to fail more often than succeed with much smaller change challenges. Instead, this requires a culture evolution that is bottom-up in approach requiring efforts across teams and coordination across IT, HR, Marketing and individual business units. Companies who view becoming digital as an IT programme will take too narrow an approach, and the business will miss out on the immense opportunity being presented in the new normal.
Central to achieving success on this journey is Leadership; it must move away from traditional hierarchical, command and control task management models to one that focuses on designing and creating the future through empowering and trusting people. It is a move from managing the old to leading the new and requires inspiration, innovation, vision and collaboration. With the right leadership, silo-thinking will be eliminated and the empowered collective will drive the culture evolution required to become naturally digital.