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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

What Covid-19 Is Teaching Companies

Robert Stevenson Blog - Deciders and Doers

When the coronavirus pandemic erupted, COMPANIES HAD TO CHANGE. For most companies, business-as-usual for serving customers, working with suppliers, collaborating with colleagues, or getting anything done—had to be done differently and the changes had to be made immediately. Accelerating the scope and scale of innovation was a must. The speed of decision making took on a whole new meaning.

Surviving companies have now found that non-mission-critical decisions can be delegated, so that top leaders focus on fewer, more important decisions: think “assign to the frontline” rather than “go to the top.” But, this will also mean they will have to tolerate mistakes that don’t put the business at risk.

Because conditions are so difficult, frontline employees need to take on more responsibility for execution, action, and collaboration. Organizations that want to move faster must teach and motivate their employees to be willing to make decisions and act.

Maintaining sales, production, and communication are all high priorities, but the process to make them happen, with a pandemic effecting everything … those processes were in for a rude awakening. Rules, that were never meant to change, are being thrown out the window. Processes that were set in stone, have become flexible palm trees, bending in whatever direction they have to. Words like, “Figure it out”, “Get it done”, “Now”, are driving all companies. They say “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” … and this pandemic has proven that phrase over and over again.

  • An engineering company designed and manufactured ventilators within a week.

  • An industrial factory ran at 90-percent-plus capacity with 40 percent of the workforce.

  • Numerous distilleries began producing and distributing bottles of hand sanitizer to accommodate the growing needs in America.

An efficient organization has more people taking action and fewer people feeding the beast of bureaucracy. Briefings, reports, getting approvals, need to be done NOW – with a time-critical mindset; companies who hesitate won’t survive. Rigid hierarchies must give way to leaner, flatter structures that allow the system to respond quickly to emerging challenges and opportunities. Some companies are getting so flat that they now have two levels - Doers and Deciders. They have also learned that some “Deciders” can help the “Doers”, if required. Creating this new functional company, changing from a hierarchy of many bosses, per the traditional organization chart, to a dynamic network of teams, is a must. We need to move from a traditional “Org Chart” and reinvent how we should organize a company to GET WORK DONE.

Working remotely works, so for the mangers who have fought this practice, get over it and make it part of your culture. Only companies that are innovating, responding rapidly to our changing environment with creative and novel approaches will survive. The goal of business hasn’t changed, that of Serving Our Customer – just the way we conduct business has. Focusing on customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and operational performance are STILL what drives successful companies. We all realize the current situation isn’t ideal, but it’s all we’ve got.

Quit waiting for “Back-to-Normal” and start dealing with the “New Normal.”But always FOCUS on taking care of customers and employees.


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