Learn From Today to Build The Future of Business Tomorrow
By Jeremy Ambrose – Director
What Large Organisations Should Be Doing to Harness The Current Innovative Spirit
It’s no secret that we have all turned on a sixpence when it comes to the way we operate; we have pivoted at pace and changed our methods of communication and daily routines. The most prevalent of these changes has come at work. No longer are we rooted to the office desk and crave the occasional respite by going out to see clients. Those water cooler moments have turned into the chat before everyone else joins a Zoom call. Somehow, we have become more human and every call is punctuated pre and post with a check-in on how the person is “actually” doing. In a moment when we rely on technology for business continuity, it seems crazy that there has been a boost in humanity.
When speaking to a Senior Officer in a large public organisation, it was clear that something else is going on, which may not have been given a label. Suddenly those large organisational structures have flexed, the red tape has faded and where once the computer said no, its now saying “we will have it done by the close of play”. In the face of a crisis, siloed working has been quashed and internal departmental feuds have taken a back seat to a common focus. The focus of staying relevant, the focus of iterating on a process or a system to make sure we are as productive out of the office as we are in it. If we were observing smaller organisations partaking in these behaviours, we would call them agile. The malleability of large organisations has suddenly turned into Play-Doh. But why? Why has it taken a pandemic to force us to change at pace? Why has it taken a pandemic to silence the “we don’t have time for that” and the “we have always done it that way, so why change”culture. We have squeezed out productivity from fighting a common enemy, and strengthened relationships through pack mentality (Psychology of Lockdown).
As organisations start to look up from their position on the fire hose, and start to imagine a future which they will come to call “the new normal”, it’s imperative they take with them the practices they have learned through this challenging time. Here are the things your organisation needs to acknowledge and maintain –
The Entrepreneurial Mindset
Before any behaviour can occur, there has to be the right mindset, we have seen that people have invoked a common language and a growth mindset (Carol Dweck). They have changed their thoughts from “it can’t be done” to “it can’t be done, yet!”. People have been approaching challenges with an open mind and looking for solutions rather than problems. Keeping this focus is influenced by maintaining and nurturing EQ. The good news is EQ can be taught, so if you have not already, make it a module in the onboarding process or add it to your L&D toolbox. Higher EQ will galvanise relationships, decrease friction in communication and neutralise conflict when changing at pace. (EQ and How to Increase it)
Departments have taken more risks during this time than they have done in whole years gone by. Instead of seeing risk as a barrier, and shying away from approaching new challenges, we have seen a helmet on, full charge approach towards risk. After crashing through the risk barrier and looking back, we have been surprised that the worst didn’t happen. Those times and places where we had our fingers slightly warmed, we have learnt from and reacted in changing something to make sure it did not happen again. Where was this approach before the crisis? We need to now harness this and make it fit for the future. How do you now change an organisational culture to “think yes first”. Get your team saying how do we say yes to this in the face of risk, rather than feeding the belly of risk by primarily saying no. Ingraining this approach will keep innovation moving forward and allow teams to iterate towards future needs and mitigate risk quicker.
Its been refreshing to see that collaborations between organisations have been flourishing recently. One example being an American firm (Delaware Consulting) shoring up supply chain processes to allow vital PPE to be installed in shops and essential outlets for the protection of their staff (Quickchange). This collaboration came from a conversation with neighbours who had not realised they lived near to each other or could help each other. In the face of a global challenge, globalisation was quickly utilised to help overcome a shared pain point. A relationship was built quickly for mutual gain and the product was quicker to market than it could have ever been before. Once where this relationship wouldn’t even have been forged, there now is a shared benefit to both organisations and of course the end user. Large organisations have been historically slow to collaborate and have kept their cards close to their own chest’s. With a magnified view of shared stakeholders and common pain points, the benefit to the end user has been enormous. How do you now continue to nurture collaborations and build on the strengths of others to stimulate inclusive growth? Keeping this collaborative approach as we exit this crisis, can only help serve both organisations and customers.
Understanding the Problems Worth Solving
There is a word of caution underpinning everything that is being done right now when changing business models and pivoting at pace. To make sure we are taking the right first steps, we need to understand if there is a problem worth solving. With the spotlight shining brightly into the darkness ahead right now, its easy to see the way forward, as we react to the needs and wants of the business. The changes we make are must haves rather than nice to haves. As we move out of the crisis we will still need to be making changes and staying relevant and go after the things which will have the most impact to both our customer and our bottom line. Being able to see if the challenge in front of you is a game worth playing is founded in a firm knowledge of the current dissatisfaction with the status quo. How big a problem is this? How many people have this problem and is it something which will benefit the masses, not the few? When you have clearly articulated answers to these questions, the organisation will be able to see the benefit and allocate the time and resource to going after a solution. We use the Beckhard-Harris change equation, which has stimulated many conversations about how to approach innovation within organisations and reduce the naturally occurring resistance to change.
Ultimately, it is going to be those who are able to learn and harness mechanisms of rapid change that have occurred in business, who will create the future. Understanding what you are doing now and how it can be applied to the future operations of the business will be the difference between going back to “the way we have always done it” and those organisations who will actively innovate, evolve from within and stay relevant in an ever-changing business landscape.
Find out how Entrepreneurial Spark can help your company innovate and build the right culture to be fit for the future, here