Many businesses are reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, and while some may return to business as usual once the crisis is over, others may need to alter the way they think and operate in order to survive.
Many global leaders think the pandemic will transform the world in significant ways, and companies with leaders who already have a transformation mindset will be better equipped to adapt and succeed at a high level.
There are two types of companies who entered the crisis. The first type involves those who went through a level of transformation prior to the crisis and had the plans and structure in place to keep moving. For them, it will be a lot easier to see where the gaps exist and also where the opportunities are for growth. They will have better tools to react and analyze what happened and make decisions on what to change.
The second type of businesses includes those who, before the pandemic, were contemplating changes that were necessary, but they did not follow through. Those companies will come out of this wounded and feeling the environment is more chaotic. Transformation management in this environment is vital. It’s about creating momentum to see results and growth, and the process must be geared at successfully moving hearts and minds toward the end that we seek.
I suggest three phases — prepare, initiate, and implement — for managing transformation in these challenging times.
• Understand your soul as a company. Understanding an organization’s soul becomes important because it is the only true representation of the impact that the organization has on the world. Knowing the company’s true north puts it in a position to build a higher purpose into the transformation program, and ensures the transformation is rooted in the essence that will make the business successful going forward. It really comes down to answering one question: “When people think about our company, whether we are still in business or whether we are gone, what will we want them to say?” The answer to that legacy question should be a set of descriptors of your identity and capabilities.
• Conduct a post-crisis assessment. Businesses should take this opportunity to examine what they were dealing with before the crisis, how they handled the crisis, and to create plans for how to emerge stronger than before. This event gives leaders carte blanche, in many respects, to implement bigger plans and changes than before. At the end of this, there will be opportunity for those who seize it.
• Program the team structure. I organize a transformation team into these departments: program managers, the leaders of the workstreams, the team members for the workstreams, and administrative support. This team will be in charge of the implementation phase and be accountable to the company leadership team. Communication must constitute a key part of every transformation program and must be organized to reach various audiences at different stages of the program.
• Manage results. The implement phase is the riskiest, because it includes the organization’s transition through the emotional cycle of change. Programs must deliver the intended results, and along the way failure will happen. Measuring short-term as well as long-term results allows the opportunity to deliver on a specific goal and to celebrate specific successes. However small they are, they add stamina and motivation to the effort.
• Manage people. A significant challenge that organizations often face when it comes to implementation is people’s resistance to change. Implementation is much about building people and building performance. It involves teaching, convincing, coaching, rewarding, sometimes disciplining, but always expressing to people that they are at the center of the organization’s destiny.
All companies that come through this pandemic have a huge opportunity to learn from what they have done and from what they have not done. For many, it will be a time for transformation.
Edwin Bosso (www.myrtlegroup.com) is founder/CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group and author of “6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey,” published by ForbesBooks.