For the past two years or so, we all have been operating in a strange work environment. Many of us have experienced trying to work full-time virtual, part-time in the office, and even full-time in the office. For each of us, it has been good, bad, or none of the above, as post-pandemic work styles range from virtual to in-person to hybrid to pick your own style, causing business leaders to hide or run for cover...or in some cases, listen carefully for new solutions.
Recently there was an interesting article in The New York Times entitled, “The Pandemic Depression Is Over. The Pandemic Recession Has Just Begun.” So where does this leave us? It is safe to say that this is not the first time there has been major economic and social disruption in the history of this republic.
After WWII, we went from over-employment of women (during the war effort) to under-employment of this demographic group when returning veterans took back important jobs held by women. But those jobs (75-80 years ago) for the most part do not exist today as we move into the 4th industrial revolution. Over this time frame, we have moved from a heavy manufacturing economy to a technology and service industries economy.
A new economy requires new thinking and new agility
Like it or not, the future of remote work is upon us. All of us need to become more facile at communicating electronically and doing it wisely. In your own business, this might mean you need to prepare a new way of communicating. And, you can't wing it the way you might have done with in-person meetings. Agendas are necessary, and you need to understand new ways of engaging people virtually. But, there have always been meetings. So why the need to change now? Why are new tools even more important today than ever before?
At Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), we help organizations innovate and change. And as Blue Ocean Strategists®, it is critical that we understand where the world is today and where it is trending for tomorrow. We know that the rate of change is accelerating year after year. Coupled with this is the wrinkle of COVID-19 and how we deal with this pandemic.
But for me, personally, I don’t want to talk about the big mega trends. I want to talk about my world. How I am affected by this crisis. What I see as trends from my corner. Perhaps you have adapted or adopted some of these new trends for yourself. Take a look and perhaps comment or give me something from your perspective.
These are chaotic times. And we are in crisis mode. And while there are significant problems, there are also great opportunities. We can re-create our companies and ourselves for the future. No doubt it’s going to be very different. The challenge, however, is that people are uncomfortable when there’s no certainty. What I am suggesting is that this is the time for us to begin to use new tools and to see how we can adapt ourselves, our companies, our staff and our customers in innovative ways.
Back in the 1990s, the only way to communicate with out-of-office employees was by sending a personal message via colleague or landline phone. I can also remember when we wanted someone in the office to read something, we passed it along with a “buck slip.” And if you were at the end of that slip, you might not see it for months!
Yet today in the age of the internet, smartphones, streaming and the cloud, we are always connected, and the line dividing our personal and professional lives is increasingly becoming blurred. New technologies are constantly coming at us, causing organizations across industries to experience digital disruption. What does it all mean?
Digitalization is changing the workplace so dramatically that the acquisition of new digital skills has become a prerequisite for success
Back when I ran a company, at one point we thought a situation was one way, and then the facts changed and it became another way. Yet when we reviewed our strategy, the new facts were not considered. New facts…no shift in direction! Nothing changed in our strategic planning and yet there were big changes in the external environment.
Sound familiar? How frustrating is it? As a consultant or manager in your organization, how many times do you point out something that is obvious, that should be fixed, and yet nothing gets done! And then you get that dreaded comment, “I know you’re right. Sometime when I get a chance, I will fix it.” Or how about: “I know but I just don’t have time to fix it.”
To me as the consultant or the outsider looking in, this is very deflating. It’s a real downer, particularly when the log jam is over something we discussed before. I sometimes want to ask, “What didn’t you get, or hear, since this is an important element in what we are doing right now?” No excuse, right?
Maybe it is time to change “Change Management”
In today's highly competitive, technologically disrupted business environment, one thing that’s a constant across all industries is change. It cannot be ignored—it must be embraced. But how? How do you change when our brains hate it? And, while change is all around us, few of us really know how to change, i.e., how to adopt new ways of doing things. We're much more comfortable with the way we've always done things in the past. So why change?
Because we must. The times demand it. Even though change is pain, we really need to learn the methods and strategies for bringing about real, transformative change, and then apply them. And fast.
Is meaningful and lasting change possible?
Yes. But, it takes genuine buy-in from the executive leadership and a strong understanding of the current vs. desired corporate culture. If these fall into place, culture change can indeed not only happen but revolutionize a company.
To understand how you too can do this, read our white paper which contains a step-by-step slide show explaining the necessary steps an organization must take to bring about real change. In this way, you and your business can overcome today's challenges and boldly embrace the future.
To download our white paper, "Everything is Changing but Change Management. Why Is It Not Working?," click below.
What is culture anyhow?
In the very simplest definition, culture is the way people think, act and behave. For us to interact with others, we need to share common values, stories, beliefs and ways of doing things. We cannot live without culture. It's the essence of who we are as humans.
Successful firms have intentionally built cultures. If a company is aggressive and competitive, and its employees always want to win, it will build a culture around those values. On the other hand, if a company is entrepreneurial and likes innovation, teamwork and visionary ideas, it will build a culture around those things.
Culture also creates a collective identity and a commitment to that identity. It becomes a company's brand. And if you have a good strong brand, you want to make sure you're living it, living the culture.
Wondering what your culture is? Perhaps this presentation can help.
Recently I was interviewed by INSIDE Public Accounting on the business applications of corporate anthropology. I will be speaking at IPA's 2018 PRIME Symposium conference, so this interview served as a kind of sneak peek into what I will focus on in the culture change workshop I'll be conducting. (You can read the entire interview here.)
My focus was on the importance of observational research to better understand why people behave the way they do, especially when interacting with a product or service. By observing behaviors, anthropologists are trained to see things people do not always know they are doing. These observations then lead to all types of insights, changes to processes, modifications to services, and even innovations.
Equally important was how these "new" ideas and insights help organizations rethink what they are doing. Often, they can better hone in on their targets because now they have a deeper understanding of their own "ways of doing things" and how well they align (or don't align) with their customers' needs.
Since we know that change is painful, observing with fresh eyes how something is being done can often enable people to better see ways to change those habits. Pretty amazing insights emerge from a little anthropology!