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Predictive measures, innovations and agility are saving organisations

Published in Strategy, Business
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Satu Koivulehto profile blue cropped
Written by
Satu Koivulehto
Senior business advisor
June 12, 2020 · 4 min read time

The past spring has revealed how agile companies can — or can’t — be. How can you develop your business, when an increasing amount of uncontrollable change factors are affecting customer behaviour, expectations and even the chances of accessing the services offered?

We are still weary after the onslaught of COVID-19 last spring, but positive expectations help us all move on. However, few organisations can afford to rely on glorious expectations alone. The past months have revealed how vulnerable, but also how agile companies are in terms of change. But most of all, the experience has taught us what it is we need to do right now in order to be successful in the future.

I have discussed with several business executives over the past weeks and followed general financial news, and I think it’s safe to say that many business fundamentals are in disarray. It is not just the service channels and production lines that have undergone transformation: customer choices, business models and their implementation have changed as well. 

Business models, decision-making, talent flexibility and operational agility have been put to the test in many business sectors. As many restaurants had to close their doors, employees were transferred to grocery stores to support their online shopping and delivery service capacity. ABC service stations started delivering pre-ordered meals safely and easily straight to cars. The design and production processes of display furnishers were tuned to the production of plexiglass shields for the checkout counters of take away restaurants and retail stores. 

The ability to innovate, experiment and quickly implement has saved many companies from dire straits.

Look ahead

In the midst of the pandemic we go from one phase to another and try to predict the next ones. We identify and assess different measures that we can adopt in order to prepare for the next phases and to overcome them. After the initial shock, a growing number of companies are getting prepared for the post-pandemic world. It will come, and although it might be difficult to see during the acute crisis, the seeds for future growth are sown in the midst of the present crisis. 

Consequently, I would like to encourage leaders to cast their eyes over the crisis and to engage their organisations to do so as well. While managers are doing their best to minimise the current financial and personal losses, it is essential that they also take time for devising visions and plans for the future.

Tolerate uncertainty

While the past months have taught us a lesson or two, we still cannot foretell the future. But we are certainly better equipped to prepare for it. A growing number of companies are developing and implementing tools for understanding and predicting future customer needs and factors that drive change in their operating environment.

Scenarios are modeled and evaluated on the basis of data, customer insight, business risks and opportunities. By selecting the appropriate scenario, companies can direct their future business while finding their balance in the current storm. But you should not waste too much time on selecting the right scenario. If you wait for the fog to subside before you make your pick, you have already lost.

Develop talents

A successful leader dares to break normative leadership structures. The ability to focus needs to be coupled with the ability to be sensitive to the buzz surrounding our operating environment; it is important to recognise and evaluate the flickering signals. Our tendency to rely on what we know and trust has been put to question. We no longer draw strength from past success and the lessons learnt. We are refiguring our business position in uncertainty — and striving towards a goal that is likely to shift.

An exploring, pivoting culture will be an integral part of the new normal — not just in service design and production, but also in leadership and strategy work. Fortunately, it is possible to develop both managerial and organisational resilience. It is also possible to utilise technology, data and analytics to help in anticipation, business scenario assessment and testing in increasingly agile and customer-oriented ways.

Dare to reform

Although the instinctive first reaction to an acute crisis is to turn inwards, overcoming it demands looking outwards. Surviving the quick turns of last spring has given us the strength, ability and tools to design and decide how to be relevant in the future. Currently we are dismantling silos and breaking locked-in value chains and ecosystems. 

Realignment and new partnerships will invigorate many. Flexible processes and the ability to react and decide quickly enable you to produce added value for customers, whose behaviour is still guided by a growing number of change factors, some of which are hard to predict. It is time to move on and to build the new normal proactively.

Nitor helps in the management of digital transformation, in the development of agile strategies and growth, in planning sustainable architecture solutions and in renewing organisational resilience. Nitor has solid hands-on experience and a deep understanding of customer-oriented business design, modern development processes and digital technologies. We boost sustainable digital development and get the best customer satisfaction ratings in the industry.

Satu Koivulehto profile blue cropped
Written by
Satu Koivulehto
Senior business advisor