All over the world, countries are “celebrating” their first lockdown anniversary. Looking back, many of us didn’t think that the pandemic would last half the year, and yet here we are, half-dressed for work, half-dressed for bed, glued to our screens responding to messages, nicely (hopefully) settled in for the foreseeable future to be spent working from home.
Outside, businesses of all sizes, varied industries, and different business models have seen their worst days. Closures left and right, with no hope in sight as world leaders fumble and fail to protect their people and economies.
On a larger scale, delayed reactions to the health and economic threats, misinformation, and political bickering continue to make things worse. Within organizations, business leaders’ inability to adapt to the sudden and on-going disruption has cost more than just job loss.
But, amidst what seemed to be the end of the modern economic world as we knew it, some organizations managed to adapt, keeping their businesses alive, some even seeing performance rates soar higher than before the pandemic started.
So, what did they do or have that enabled them to keep their doors open for business that the others didn’t?
How Have The Leaders Left The Laggards Behind?
According to a recent study by Planview, a portfolio and work management company, one of the most significant differences is the number of times a company/organization reviewed and adjusted its strategy.
The study claims that 70 percent of Leaders said their planning cadence supports their ability to quickly respond to internal and external shifts or disruptions. They can review and adjust strategies, funding, and operating plans at a faster pace while the majority of Laggards only revised when there was a compelling reason to do so.
How quickly and effectively an organization revised their strategies to respond to change were the main determinants. Some simply went from selling in physical stores to selling online. Some had to make more drastic changes in the way they operated, what products they sold, and which services they rendered.
Small, Niched, But Didn’t Call It Quits
Steve Moriarty, owner of Indiana-based custom jewelry store, Moriarty’s Gem Art didn’t wait long and finally started live selling their inventory, something their team had discussed doing for years. He showcases their gems to thousands of viewers all over the world while telling them stories of his gem sourcing expeditions, earning the business tens of thousands of dollars while other jewelry shops closed down.
Going Lean and moving their operations online allowed them to stay in business long enough to keep the jewelry store they established in 1975 and continue on as soon as pandemic protocols in their area loosened.
But What About Bigger Businesses?
Many airlines may have had to let hundreds of people go when they were mainly transporting people. But, since shifting to transporting just cargo and some major organizational restructuring, they are far from filing for bankruptcy.
A number of apparel companies have made it their mission to donate millions of washable face masks made of extra fabric to front-liners weekly, putting what would have been considered waste, to good use.
One example that now home-based workers will appreciate is the Work Under Our Roof program by Red Roof Hotels. For a reasonable price, you can spend the day working in a quiet room-turned-office space where the internet is reliable and kids are nowhere to be seen or heard.
Conducting meetings without pets in the background, attending seminars without being asked to make lunch, and writing reports without constantly answering the refrigerator’s calls, is once again a possibility.
These prove the study’s claims that without access to timely and relevant information across the organization, failure to quickly adapt to disruptions is almost guaranteed.
Having a centralized system of information, communication, and the means to track progress enables and encourages agility in the organization. The ease and continuity of the flow of information make the process of giving and getting performance feedback second nature.
Apart from managing resources, utilizing the right tools set the Leaders apart from the Laggards who relied on using spreadsheets and internally developed tools that proved to be insufficient in driving success or at least, in this case, survival.