Undoubtably, these are unusual times. For most companies and individuals, the situation we now face with the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything seen in history, and the anticipated economic “hangover” is still an unknown. In a recent Statista article, leading economists estimate that even in the best-case scenario, global GDP loss because of the pandemic will total nearly $77 billion.
In this “white water rapids” period of change, it is imperative that companies are prepared for the unforeseen detours along their strategic journey. In order to regain or maintain the footing that has buoyed their prior success, it is of the utmost importance for companies to laser-focus on the right thing and make sure they execute that thing right.
Often when a politician is elected or a new CEO is appointed, they make a grand event of what they accomplish in the first 100 days. Why? To demonstrate their focus on highest priorities as well as to show they’ve taken control of executive decision-making. Likewise, this next 100 days will require rapid action to ensure intentional, proactive control versus reactive response.
Recently, the Credera team outlined a framework to help companies react, respond, and plan strategically during times of economic shock and uncertainty. The Now, Next, Future framework is a breakdown of what organizations should prioritize immediately and how to innovate based on what’s on the short-term horizon, while also focusing on a long-term strategy. Today, we want to investigate the “Next” portion of the framework, some of the key performance dimensions of a company, and how to prioritize in the next 100 days.
It is important to ensure a balance of focused action by looking across the full spectrum of business performance dimensions. Below are some examples that we’ve seen across five dimensions of performance.
Customer Service & Experience
Ultimately, customers and their experience are the key to survive and thrive. Now is the time to experiment with showing customers that you are trying. The status quo has already been disrupted, and customers are more resilient than you may think. Innovation relies on the maxim of “fail fast, fail often.” Sometimes it takes putting the future of your company in your customers’ hands. Southwest Airlines recently published the Southwest Promise—intentionally limiting the number of customers on their planes, extensively updating and spending money on cleaning procedures, and changing their boarding process, something that has been the same for the last few decades.
This promise during an already difficult airline situation lets customers know they are the priority. Southwest knew as long as they approached the situation with empathy and the right intent, their customers would respond with understanding. Acting in altruism shows your company is trying something; even if it doesn’t hit the nail on the head right away.
McKinsey recently published a piece regarding the adaptation of digital training forced by COVID-19. They recommend performing a “rapid triage of the entire portfolio of learning offerings” in an attempt to not slow the capability generation of a company. Remote training went from convenient to critical in an instant. According to Training Industry, there has been a recent 8,135% increase in web traffic around topics regarding remote learning and virtual instructor-led training.
Just because business-as-usual has encountered obstacles doesn’t mean the long-range investment to ensure employees develop and grow can be ignored. It is imperative to remember to focus on the future of your employee base while navigating the seemingly more pressing issues around customers, financials, and operations.
As you think through what critical variables keep your business afloat, the one non-negotiable is revenue. What ways could your company continue to leverage existing assets, within current restrictions, to continue to sell and drive revenue?
In some businesses, selling is a very relational activity, often a person-to-person activity. Yet a Salesforce State of Sales report found that pre-COVID sales rep virtual interactions with customers/prospects had increased 60% compared to 2015. Not only did virtual interaction volume grow, but so did the frequency, with virtual connections occurring three times more often than in-person interactions. The shift to virtual was already occurring and has been accelerated due to COVID-19. Now with virtual as the new normal, the company that can further equip its people for virtual sales is a force to be reckoned with. To do this requires the right tooling and training to accomplish the job effectively and efficiently, but the good news is that resistance to change from both customers and employees has dropped considerably under the current circumstances.
Likely one of the best examples of operational preparedness is that of HEB, a prominent grocery chain in Texas. Known for their competitive prices, outstanding customer service, and wildly loyal patrons, they also have some experience dealing with disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey. By sensing the impacts of a potential pandemic as early as the second week in January, HEB was able to operationally respond to the impacts of COVID-19.
Due to their pre-existing strategy, which combined global sourcing with a high standard of customer care, HEB was prepared to leap into early action to prepare supply chains, employees, and customers to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. They even went as far as developing a command central to bring together top operational decision-makers in order to navigate these uncertain times.
The lesson here is to be forward-thinking, aware of your strengths, and prepared to adapt your operations as things change.
Technology & Data
Are your data and technology underutilized assets? On January 22, Johns Hopkins launched the most data-rich COVID-19 tracking map to date and have not ceased building. They continue to make updates and additions to what has been touted as “an internationally trusted resource for understanding the evolving epidemic in near-real time.”
While there were a slew of organizations that possessed the right data to publish COVID-19 information, Johns Hopkins used their assets and positioning to meet an emerging need. They foresaw the fast-changing environment, pooled the right resources within their organization, and took meaningful action to innovate. On January 22, what was primarily a research university became publicly known as a data visualization powerhouse overnight. This is the sort of strategic innovation that can be leveraged over the long term.
Not Just During COVID
Although this chapter in our world’s history is unparalleled, it doesn’t take a pandemic for the principles of strategic innovation to apply. Look around at the resources you have at your fingertips and ask yourself, “What ways can I innovate with what I possess today to solve the challenges (or take advantage of opportunities) that are directly in front of me?”
Time is of the essence. Innovation exists around every corner, but sometimes it takes the survival mentality to light the fire for action.
If you’re looking for ways to revolutionize your business through strategic innovation in the next 100 days, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.