Ready, set, go: Reinventing the organization for speed in the post-COVID-19 era
The need for speed has never been greater. Here are nine ways companies can get faster.
By Aaron De Smet, Daniel Pacthod, Charlotte Relyea, and Bob Sternfels – hen the coronavirus pandemic erupted, companies had to change. Many business-as-usual approaches to serving customers, working with suppliers, and collaborating with colleagues—or just getting anything done—would have failed. They had to increase the speed of decision making, while improving productivity, using technology and data in new ways, and accelerating the scope and scale of innovation. And it worked. Organizations in a wide range of sectors and geographies have accomplished difficult tasks and achieved positive results in record time:
Redeploying talent. A global telco redeployed 1,000 store employees to inside sales and retrained them in three weeks.
Launching new business models. A US-based retailer launched curbside delivery in two days versus the previously-planned 18 months.
Improving productivity. An industrial factory ran at 90-percent-plus capacity with 40 percent of the workforce.
Developing new products. An engineering company designed and manufactured ventilators within a week.
Shifting operations. Coordinating with local officials, a major shipbuilder switched from three shifts to two, with thousands of employees.
At the heart of each of these examples is speed—getting things done fast, and well. Organizations have removed boundaries and have broken down silos in ways no one thought was possible. They have streamlined decisions and processes, empowered frontline leaders, and suspended slow-moving hierarchies and bureaucracies. The results, CEOs from a wide range of industries have told us, have often been stunning:
“Decision making accelerated when we cut the nonsense. We make decisions in one meeting, limit groups to no more than nine people, and have banned PowerPoint.”
“I asked on Monday, and by Friday we had a working prototype.”
“We have increased time in direct connection with teams—resetting the role and energizing our managers.”
“We adopted new technology overnight—not the usual years—as we have a higher tolerance for mistakes that don’t threaten the business.”
“We’re putting teams of our best people on the hardest problems. If they can’t solve it, no one can.”
Because of the pandemic, leadership teams have embraced technology and data, reinventing core processes and adopting new collaboration tools. Technology and people interacting in new ways is at the heart of the new operating model for business—and of creating an effective postpandemic organization. more>