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Lessons From 2020

“A good pilot is compelled to always evaluate what’s happened so he can apply what he’s learned.”

–Commander Mike Metcalf (Callsign: Viper )
Top Gun

2020 is not over yet but it’s not too early to evaluate what has happened so that we can plan appropriate steps in the new year. While the new vaccines give us hope, the crisis is not over and the business world we transition to post-crisis will bring even more changes. Here are elements to consider:

Value Proposition – In the service world, so many of our strategic differentiators were based on face-to-face interactions. Lockdowns change both space and time. In professional development, for instance, customers still want to “touch the hand of greatness” but somehow that personal (not pre-recorded) transfer of wisdom must happen in a shared online space. Five-day bootcamps used to be popular for people who want to upskill quickly but no one wants to spend five consecutive days staring at a computer screen. Stretching the delivery out is a challenge but it can also be an opportunity since this change in time creates room for application and reflection. What benefits can the new normal bring to your products and services? Organizations need to understand and communicate these new value propositions. To help you define the new vision and strategic initiatives, check out Orion’s Rapid Strategy Redefinition service.

Customer Experience – The immediate business reaction to lockdowns and travel restriction was, “How do we do what we do under these circumstances.” This understandable crisis management mindset focused much more on our internal processes than the customer journey. In general, customers were very forgiving of businesses and government agencies that were providing services under difficult circumstances in 2020. Forgiveness never lasts long in business. As we roll into 2021, your customers will expect you to think about the new interactions from their perspective and redefine their experiences during the remainder of pandemic and in the new normal that follows. Organizations that transform customer value will gobble up market share; those that are slow to transform will lose even their long-term customers. To help you rethink and transition your customer experience, check out our Reimagine Customer Relationships page.

Employee Teamwork – For most of us, virtual team meetings no longer resemble one of those funny Zoom videos on YouTube. That does not mean we have effective virtual teams. With the remote workforce here to stay in 2021 (and perhaps much longer) it is imperative that we deal with both the people and the process issues. From the people perspective, we need our managers and leaders to use a different set of skills to achieve classic team goals like trust, collaboration and accountability. (Orion just updated its virtual leadership training.) From a process perspective, many key workflows and supply chains have been disrupted by both the lockdowns and the remote workforce.  In some cases it has reinforced silo thinking. Business processes must be updated to make sure the entire team is effective in delivering business results. To help you virtually redesign key processes, check out our Virtual Process Improvement page.

Brain Drain – My father had been his employer’s top regional salesperson for more than a decade when someone handed him a laptop and said all reports, ordering and communication must now be done via the computer. He was in his late 60s and decided to retire less than a year later. How many of your long service longest-service employees have decided it is better to retire than adapt to the new normal? In many industries, slowdowns and furloughs also cost companies their most experienced employees. We can expect more in 2021.  Now is the time to not only protect against the loss of “business wisdom” but to begin making the accumulated knowledge of your workforce a sustainable asset. To learn more how Orion can help, go to our Knowledge Retention and Management services webpage.

Value proposition, customer experience, employee teamwork and knowledge loss/retention are four key elements to managing the transition from the world that was to the world that will be post-COVID.  What other factors are critical to your organization’s success in 2021?

Paul King

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