The strong will be stronger, the weak will be weaker
Written by Marcin Dembowski, Adizes Certified Associate and Adizes Institute Poland Partner
The biggest challenge is to understand and accept the fact that tomorrow will be different.
Returning to normality does not mean returning to the pre-crisis state, but to a new reality.
When the pandemic first hit, we focused on survival, based on the prescriptions of Dr. Ichak Adizes in How to Manage in Times of Crisis. We were proactive and stabilized the situation. However, now, we must start to prepare for the future and we should focus on what will happen when we start to wake up in the new reality of post Covid19. Unfortunately, this is not so simple and requires a lot of effort and skills.
Post-Covid reminds me of the situation from “Alice in Wonderland”, when the Red Queen says to Alice: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”.
Today, this is what organizations are facing – they need to run at least twice as fast as they can.
There are four challenges, that may hinder this process for family-owned and private companies, in particular small and medium-sized organizations.
Challenge #1: Let’s not rely on luck.
Luck plays a huge role in business, as described by Chengwei Liu in the book “Luck (Key ideas in business and management)”, (2019). Unfortunately, relying on luck does not guarantee success. Let’s see what happens in a world paralyzed by Covid-19. Those who considered themselves as geniuses, because they succeeded and thought, that luck would continue in their favor, today are facing a crisis for which their companies are not ready. They turned out to be unprepared. New players are emerging who are now favored by luck and are wondering how to use the current crisis, or the paralysis of competition, for their further development. Most likely, most of them will not realize that they owe their success to luck and a new situation. As a result, they will not work on further development of their company and preparing for future crises. Luck from the past does not guarantee success in the future.
Challenge #2: A lack of internal alignment.
This is due to the lack of awareness or loss of purpose in the organization. Asking employees, and even the company’s management: What is the purpose of this organization? They often cannot give a clear answer. How did this happen? What made the company not understand why it exists? This can be associated with success and the wrong search for opportunities, instead of the right path for further development of the company. When we lose understanding of the purpose, it automatically translates into our mission, strategy, structures (responsibility, power and remuneration), and the ability to enforce and control the company’s activities.
It is extremely dangerous during a crisis, because we do not fully understand what to focus our attention on, which branches of our activity to suspend or abandon. Companies with a surplus of cash, at this time, without a good understanding of the purpose of their existence, can take “bargain investments” that, in the future, may become a source of problems and distract their attention and concentration. Therefore, the combination of a basic goal, strategy and organization leads to a very successful and sustainable development of the enterprise. Strong organizational culture, well-designed and functional structure, as well as appropriate management processes are like shields, which protect us against uncontrolled changes and help find new ways to overcome the crisis.
Challenge #3: The style of leadership.
After Covid19, the world needs more leaders who can support innovation in the organization. We see time and again, companies are dominated by the direction of an individual leader who “knows everything”, instead of a leader who knows how to promote involving an employee decision-making process. A process that allows you to develop innovative solutions and ideas based on an approach of problem solving, engagement and collaboration, and finally a process that appreciates the group’s results.
Teamwork is needed to build strong organizations. We are not able to determine the new direction and purpose of the organization ourselves, and at the same time, get the team to be fully engaged. We need committed and involved collaborators for this. This requires a change in management styles that supports joint learning and nurturing cognitive diversity in the design of tomorrow’s work. This is a necessary skill for any company competing in a rapidly changing world. For the owners, this is a real challenge, but understanding the needs of the organization and giving up their own selfish motives is a very valuable investment.
The final and biggest challenge: understand that change or a crisis is an opportunity for strong companies.
Without change, the average can catch up and bite the leaders. It means accepting the new reality! It’s been several months since the global economic paralysis. During this time, companies began to fight for survival or take advantage of new market opportunities. All energy has been focused on short-term efficiency and/or performance.
However, this is just the beginning of a new reality. The biggest challenge is to understand and accept the fact that tomorrow will be different. Returning to normality does not mean a return to the pre-crisis state but to a new reality. Therefore, start working today on the long-term effectiveness and efficiency of your organization. Refresh or remind yourself what the real purpose of your organization is and build a future on it, based on the coherence of strategies, structures (power, responsibility and remuneration), and processes, i.e. the answer – designing the driving forces of your company.
You must act and respond to changes faster than your competitors.