Building Post Pandemic Foundations - The Role of People, Practices and Purpose

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We are in the midst of an unprecedented time, when the whole world feels that it has stopped and hit the reset button. Sat in our makeshift offices, with life careering in and out like a small child on a Zoom call, transformation programmes are going on hold in order to focus on immediate business critical needs. But this is the start of a new reality, it’s important that organisations do not lose sight of the long term changes that are happening in front of us today due to Covid-19, in order to set up for the future and define for themselves the new “normal”.

Digital activities are becoming standard across the board with all demographics, from connecting to loved ones through Zoom and video dating, to the exponential rise in contactless payments due to the fears of Covid transmission via cash. It is this mass adoption of digital that businesses need to be aware of. To find a way to understand and invest in it for the future. 

Thankfully at Red Badger we are seeing this happening, supporting Econsultancy's report that a fifth of large enterprises are doing just that, and we are helping our clients to start to shift their thinking to the new reality post Covid-19. 

There are 3 areas that can help organisations adapt to a post Covid-19 world and set their teams up for long term success: People, Practices and Purpose. How we can change our ways of working and shift our mindset to be more empathetic and Human first, whilst developing processes that create certainty in always delivering value and enable us to adapt through data informed decisions. 

And as society becomes more digital how we can build a purpose that goes beyond our organisations and develops responsible technology that sets us up for a new future. 

Putting People First

What Covid-19 has shown us is the adaptability of people and our ability to operate in new and different ways. Digital adoption is no longer determined by demographic but is being embraced by everyone to try and create a new normal. Right now we need to understand the people around us, both those at work and the customers that use our products, and put them at the centre of what we do next. 

In the workplace giving people the tools they need to collaborate and communicate is essential, but as important is their psychological safety. The Google Aristotle project has told us this is an important factor in all the best teams and within that professional well-being can have the most significant impact on safety. Right now empowering people to be awesome and feel that they are free to express themselves whilst working can set businesses up to emerge from Covid-19 in a position of strength. With teams that feel they can adapt to the unknown. 

Using employee engagement tools, such as Peakon or Culture Amp, to build safe spaces for people to share feedback to the business helps to promote an environment of trust and transparency. And with objective insights it allows Leaders to see how people are feeling across the business and spot any challenges early. 

Through constant communication we can enable teams not only to be more productive. But also feel safe and in turn have more resilience to deal with now and the adaptability to what comes next.

The other person that we need to be focusing on in our ecosystems is our customer. As the world hits the pause button we need to ensure that a customer centred approach is at the core of the business and any decisions made for the future. 

How are people changing their habits to fit the new reality and using technology to enable that change? The cultural shifts from a few weeks ago around work, home and family do not feel as if they are going to go back to “normal” any time soon. Businesses have to understand how the dependency on technology is growing to support this and how it is going to change their industries. 

Using design-thinking principles to empathise and build a detailed view of customers across all channels, we can start to tackle some of these challenges. Through customer surveys, behavioral data and direct conversation, it is possible to develop a continuous feedback loop to understand customers and help define what behaviour changes will stick post Covid-19. 

With this insight and alongside data analytics businesses can make informed decisions about which services to focus on and the right products to build next. A customer centric approach increases efficiencies in decision making, speed to market and reduces the risk of failure. But ultimately it builds trust with your customers as you start to deliver more value, more regularly with products that fit their needs.

Putting people first is essential to making sense of an ever changing landscape. By listening, having compassion and understanding we can ensure that whatever we do next is at least a small step in the right direction to solving some of the complex challenges that lie ahead.

They state that there are 3 main sources of innovation: serendipity, recombination and incremental improvement. Whilst all three require a level of sociality and passing on of others’ experiences and knowledge, recombinant innovation is the one that is both highly impactful and can be created within designed environments. Thus, it is the strongest innovation type that gives businesses and research facilities a systematic way to create real innovation. 

 

Practices 

As we start to realise the implications of our new reality, organisations need to look at their processes and challenge how to make them more effective. Analysing people’s mindsets and how they carry out their work is essential to any transformation and often it is this mindset shift to be more “agile” that is the hardest thing to change. Covid-19 has actually forced this mindset shift upon us and companies need to take advantage of this to set themselves right for the future.

We are seeing an enormous amount of adaptability and agility in the way that people have responded to Covid-19. Who knew that we were capable of building a hospital in just a few weeks or that so much of the UK workforce would adapt to remote working. Covid is supplying the need to make fast autonomous decisions within small cross functional teams. It is breaking down the hierarchy of decision making in places allowing us to adapt to an environment that is changing hourly. Whether that is in response to the rise in cyber attacks or to restaurants having to shift focus to delivery and pick up. 

To set up for what comes next organisations should be analysing the changes that have been forced upon them to see what has worked and what has not. Benefitting from this cataclysmic moment to move to a more agile and adaptive way of working. But this does not mean that companies need to “Let go” of control completely. 

The paradox is that in order to deliver value quicker, safety is prerequisite and it is this principle that can lead to more resilient ways of working. Governance is still required so that there is alignment on strategic vision and outcomes. And it provides channels for continuous communication to ensure the whole organisation is on the journey together. Adaptive planning is essential to manage budget, ensure quality in output and enable people to make the right prioritisation. All of this must be underpinned with robust data and insights to validate opinions, drive decision making and lower the level of risk.

This enforced experiment of remote working is also showing that, with the right collaboration tools in place, productivity doesn’t have to fall. CIPD studies say that with flexible working in place it can drive engagement and productivity; Covid-19 has perversely helped to corroborate some this in a very short space of time. How we work together now needs to be accommodating of new expectations around managing work and life together. Companies can support this change by implementing new policies that enable people to move away from the 9-5 grind and instead focus on the value they are creating. 

Ultimately it is about having a more Human centred approach to the way we work, good tools are not enough, you need a total change in attitude. One that has the processes in place to give people the safety to make decisions and promotes a culture of driving outcomes and value for your customers.

 

Purpose

Digital disruption and transformation has been thrust upon us through Covid-19. What was expected to take months to implement and gain widespread adoption has taken days. Decision making at speed to adapt to the ever changing landscape, the re-invention of operating models in real time and collaboration between organisations across sectors have instigated change in a very short period of time. 

Technology has been the enabler to solving business critical needs, but it is human adaptability that has powered it. By embracing change, putting customers first and through transparent communications organisations have actually set the foundations, in their crisis management, for the world post Covid-19. 

But despite social mass adoption only 12% of people think that technology has a positive impact on society. Voices such as Naomi Klein write that big tech plans to profit massively from the Pandemic and Martha Lane Fox believes that we have not tackled the unintended consequences of technology in the last decade. Research done by Doteveryone found that 25% of Uk tech workers have experienced a decision taken about a product that they felt could be negative for people and society. 

Covid-19 has created a new imperative that organisations in all sectors now start to face up to these challenges and draw upon the power of technology to address social, environmental and commercial opportunities. So should we be thinking bigger?

By developing a shared purpose around human centred challenges and moving away from measures of success purely rooted in business growth within a marketplace, it feels possible to deliver sustainable value to our customers and communities. And the evidence is now there to suggest that purpose driven organisations are more successful. Consumers now make decisions on brands based on how they treat their people, deal with the environment and communities. Ultimately a shared purpose leads to higher customer and employee satisfaction.

Yet in order to tackle wider societal and environmental challenges at scale, collaboration across organisations is key. At Red Badger we have been thinking about this for some time and have now launched Mission Beyond Product as a platform to build diverse coalitions. That can create value fast and collaborate for impact on some of the world's biggest challenges. 

By creating shared purpose, building Human relationships with employees and customers and developing the right practices it is possible to set up our organisations for post pandemic success. That delivers value for more than just the shareholders and is ready and resilient enough to confront the challenges of a new society.

 

If you are interested in joining the movement to make change happen, please get in touch at hello@red-badger.com.

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