1. Rediscover the customer
Challenge: Recent years have shown that agility and adaptability to change are a must. If, until now, uncertainty and reaction ruled, next year will be a time for reflection and action.
As a consequence, customer needs and expectations will change even faster than they have until now. Internal and external customers will demand real-time responses that truly correspond to their needs.
How to stay aware of the impact we have on our clients? Are satisfaction surveys enough?
Suggestions in order to rediscover the client:
- Extend the concept, from “customer” to “stakeholder”: Consider all stakeholders: shareholders, end customers, users, collaborators, suppliers, society.
- Understand your customer: Identify the various customer archetypes and devise a plan to understand their needs. Listen to them through surveys, interviews and focus groups, but also watch them enjoy or suffer your service, product, or your operation. It is not about trying to think like them – you couldn’t – but about interacting to really understand their needs and expectations.
- Analyze end-to-end interaction: Build the customer journey taking into account that the concept your customer has of your product or service begins even before having direct contact with your organization. Analyze his/her full experience throughout the journey to satisfy his needs or expectations, and focus on understanding how much value he/she perceives in each moment of truth.
2. Integrate efforts
Challenge: COVID-19 has accelerated changes in the ways of working. In a hybrid or even virtual work context, bosses and employees, or even colleagues, may not know each other face to face. This hinders, or might hinder in the future, communication, alignment and, above all, the possibility of maintaining or re-creating a culture.
How to turn transformation into an organization-wide project?
Suggestions for integrating efforts:
- Collaboration and co-creation: If you want your people to learn how to learn together -and with the client- I highly recommend having a decentralized leadership and autonomous teams. The interaction needed to encourage learning is closer to a network format than to the traditional organization.
- Seek development instead of growth: Growing is important; it can mean more sales, more production, more productivity. But more important is to develop your organization to make it possible to think differently and acquire new capacities and competencies.
- Promotion and recognition: Look ahead and focus on understanding the competencies you will need in the future rather than current performance levels. Next year will demand more speed and, for this, you will need more people making decisions with common criteria. You will need to integrate efforts, areas, processes, functions, and ideas, and, in order to do so, the criteria used until today to promote and recognize will need to be put aside.
- The employee in the center: Put your collaborators in the center so that they can create customized responses and solutions for the client -and with the client. Remember that, as Simon Sinek well said, “customers will never love a company until employees love it first.”
3. Experiment and learn
Challenge: The crisis caused by the pandemic demonstrated that the ability to adapt – and to adapt quickly – is a matter of survival. In a dynamic and changing context, agility and constant learning represent an urgent need.
How to develop a culture of agile innovation and experimentation?
Tips for Experimenting and Learning:
- Uninhibited talent: Develop people who are willing to try, experiment, and learn. Sprint work and autonomous work teams are just the first steps. It is necessary to redefine the concept of “error” when it comes to experimenting with a solution or innovation; it needs to be understood as part of the learning process.
- Learning to unlearn: Before you can learn something new, you must first unlearn. If you want to innovate, you cannot react in the same way as in the past; you must understand what is needed today. In addition, it is necessary to expand the concept of learning so that the result of the experimentation goes beyond a conclusion such as “it works” or “it does not work”.
- Competency Development: It is time to move from career plan development to competency development. Competencies for change, competencies to innovate, and competencies to create synergy working as a team. If you want to build a culture of innovation, you need to resignify experience, knowledge, and seniority. It takes more open-mindedness and fewer people who “know it all”.
4. Rethink culture
Challenge: The great impact of the pandemic has passed. Now is the time to reflect on whether the culture towards which your organization has been turning is the one you want, the one that will help you achieve your goals and develop.
How to maintain the fundamental values - those that are part of the essence of your organization – but modeling a new intentional and sustainable culture?
Suggestions for rethinking culture:
- Aspire to a desired culture: Define what characteristics and values your organization’s culture should have. Culture is not intangible; It is a key asset of your organization that determines habits and behaviors and, therefore, the results you will achieve. As such, it cannot be left to chance. Analyze and design culture intentionally.
- Measure the impact and correct: If you want to make changes to your organizational culture, the first step is to learn to understand, experiment, and feedback your change management plan by working in short cycles. Establishing indicators that help you measure culture is essential for this.
- Responsiveness: Digitization, robotics, artificial intelligence… Changes are going at great speed and agility is needed to react towards a sustainable business. Adaptability to change must be a fundamental competence of any organization.
Towards a 2022 of development
The backlash of COVID-19 is already showing, but this time it will not find us unprepared. There have been difficult years, it is true, but also years full of lessons learned that I hope, will foster organizational development.
I invite you to embrace the challenges, learn from them and intentionally design the transformation that your organization needs. I leave you 4 suggestions for this.
Rediscover the customer, understanding all your stakeholders as such, and considering that their needs change permanently.
Integrate efforts to achieve synergies, and work for and with the client.
Develop a culture of innovation, experimentation and constant learning.
Last but not least, understand that culture is the foundation of the organization and cannot be left to chance. Design the culture, measure it and develop competencies for the future.
Author: Raúl Molteni