When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. – Chinese proverb
Everyone is being forced to make changes to help their organizations quickly adapt and survive. No one is immune from the current dramatic shifts in society or today’s COVID-19 business environment. And it is safe to say that business will never be conducted the same way again.
As we focus on immediate challenges and the changes we need to make in order to survive this new era of social distancing, remote work and the uncertainty that surrounds this pandemic, it is also important not to overlook a simple truth: It is a great time to make structural changes to your business that will serve you well now and well into the future.
Put another way, now is a time of opportunity if you’re willing to seize it. Those who do will not only survive, but will thrive.
We are seeing changes take place in every industry. In my local neighborhood, great restaurants are quickly adapting to the needs of takeout customers rather than their typical dine in patrons. A business model many restaurants have not practiced, however they’re creating a business model that has the potential to grow their businesses after the crisis subsides and their dining rooms reopen. Do we expect them to go back to business as usual — letting go of all of that incremental business — once the crisis subsides?
Another example – my kids’ colleges have quickly figured out ways to use technology to teach via distance learning platforms. Will they unplug this capability when the crisis has passed or will they find new ways to expand education and leverage this experience to grow their business? Why wouldn’t they? And how can they use this technology to better accommodate the needs of more students, such as the disabled?
And then there’s my doctor who is now able to do a video consult rather than having to see me in their office. This is a service that has been growing in popularity, however many doctors have not yet offered this to their patients for routine services. This crisis may change that – I certainly know I’d love to have access to telemedicine in the future. Everybody wins.
For Inkbench, our own pivot concerns the way we’re working. Like many businesses, we’re now 100 percent remote, working on virtual workstations, collaborating on Slack and Zoom and using a variety of other cloud-based collaboration platforms to manage our work. It’s working. And in many ways we’re working smarter and more efficiently than ever before. The genie is out of the bottle. I doubt whether we’ll ever return to business as it used to be and I believe many organizations may be experiencing that same epiphany.
These are just a few local examples of changes that businesses are making to adapt to the current environment that are likely to be business builders long after the COVID-19 crisis has subsided. As your businesses are making adjustments it is smart to consider how any of these adjustments could be leveraged for the future and if they should be evaluated for permanent (in some form) implementation.
Businesses that consider long term solutions to near-term challenges will come out of this much stronger than before.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it … ?
Identifying and implementing the business ‘pivot’ is only half of the battle. A new business model built on updated platforms and processes is not enough by itself. Smart communication is critical. How do you inform customers, employees and other stakeholders about the new business model? Successful change requires consistent and persistent communication that often requires an ‘all hands on deck’ exercise.
When you consider your organization, consider all of the stakeholders you need to communicate with in order to succeed. For Inkbench it is our employees, subscribers/clients, and investors. Every organization will have different groups of local and global customers, employees and markets – all with very different business and environmental conditions and therefore different messaging requirements..
Many people are needed to communicate across a myriad of communication channels, including social media. The key to successfully communicating your ‘pivot’ lies in finding a way to align messaging and protect the brand, while at the same time empowering an army of communicators to tailor communications to the stakeholders they know best. Think about all the retailers across the country, or all the restaurant chains, that had to communicate similar, but highly localized, messages as to store hours, new services, and how to go about doing curbside pickup throughout the last week in different states as COVID-19 impacted local markets Although we didn’t design the Inkbench design and collaboration platform with a global transformational crisis in mind, it is proving to be very well suited to this exact task.
But, no matter how you achieve this communications alignment, this is an example of one more transformational opportunity that can benefit your organizing long into the future.
I’ve read that the Chinese word for “crisis” is spelled with two characters – one for “danger” and the other for “opportunity.” Making meaningful and positive change is our chance to find opportunity — for our organizations and ourselves — in this challenging environment.
Stories, tips, and ideas from Inkbench and its customers.
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