Strategy Execution in the Post-COVID World
What will 2020 come to represent for your organisation? As we enter the final quarter of this year, this will be one of many questions that managers will have to contend with as they continue to adapt their teams to the new reality that is emerging. It is likely that the strategies your organisation were pursuing in 2019 (and perhaps planning to continue in 2020) came to a standstill in the last few months, and new directions had to be configured which may continue into 2021. Seeing such scenarios arise with many organisations prompted us to consider how effective strategy execution can continue in the Post-COVID world, with three important trends and themes emerging that are explored in this article.
Continuous Improvement to Cost Optimisation
One of the more prominent trends Amplify-Now has noticed in the market over the last few months is organisations pivoting from Continuous Improvement to Cost Optimisation projects. With the shift coinciding around the global spread of COVID-19 in March 2020, we can understand that the drastic change in business climate forced many organisations to reconsider their strategic outlook for the remainder of the year. Where previously businesses maintained a focus on improving products and services, sudden declines in revenue across key markets has led companies to shift their focus inwards to how costs within their organisations can be optimised. Given the uncertainty that remains around the COVID-19 pandemic, we imagine that these cost optimisation strategies will continue into 2021. In accordance with recommended practices, the execution of these strategies should involve the following approach:
- Setting an overall cost optimisation target at a corporate level
- Cascading this target down the organisation by setting appropriate cost optimisation targets for all business units
- Tracking and monitoring cost optimisation targets to ensure savings are captured
Remote Strategy Execution
Arguably one of the most sudden changes to impact workplaces after the outbreak of COVID-19 was the shift to employees working remotely from home. In a matter of days, standard workplace practices such as face-to-face meetings, business travel and even impromptu hallway discussions came to an abrupt halt. One could say that these in-person interactions were just something we took for granted; without much consideration for “social distancing” prior to 2020. Perhaps without realising though, the successful execution of our strategies was dependent on the assumption that we would always be working in a physical office environment, and thus facilitating easier communication channels with team members and associated accountability structures. Currently however, there is discussion that these remote work arrangements could continue long-term (even if/when a vaccine to COVID-19 is developed), with companies such as Twitter, JPMorgan and Amazon announcing they will extend their work-from-home policies. If these expectations do eventuate, then strategy execution in the Post-COVID world will also be performed remotely. This means that several considerations should be made by managers for their remote teams:
- Ensure a clear roadmap for the strategy’s execution can be made accessible to all team members regardless of where they are working
- Define deadlines and owners for each project and task associated with the strategy’s execution
- Create visibility over the progress an individual or team is making towards their associated goals
Surviving to Thriving
Much of this article has essentially been focussed on adapting to the COVID-world, but we would also stress the importance of considering how your organisation can best position itself for the years ahead. We refer to this approach as transitioning from “surviving to thriving” – a consideration of what strategies your company can adopt not only to weather the current economic crisis, but to emerge stronger because of it. COVID-19 has been described as a once-in-a-generation crisis. As such, it is wise to consider lessons from history as the world previously responded to crises of a similar magnitude. For example, economic growth strengthened significantly in Western Europe and North America between 1945 and 1970 after the crisis of World War II ended. Part of this can be attributed to businesses that were able to adapt during the wartime era, before thriving in the years that followed. Economic policy during the 1940s was such that companies were forced to adopt new strategies in product development and innovation (similar to what we have seen in recent months due to COVID). As an example, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies today started as a citric-acid manufacturer before the United States Government asked it to help produce penicillin. In the post-war period, this company then adopted a new strategy to modify these penicillin creation processes it had introduced and thrive by creating new antibiotics. In summary, our belief is that strategy execution in the post-COVID world will involve businesses continuing their focus on cost optimisation and implementing best practices that ensure this execution can continue remotely for their team members. Simultaneously, however, we contend that the organisations that will thrive in this new world will be able to adapt any new practices that they adopt during the pandemic and strategically turn them into strengths for the years ahead. These perspectives are driven by the fact that Amplify-Now is currently working with its clients to achieve all three of these objectives. Our software has enabled businesses across the world to adapt to this new economic reality and position themselves for the post-COVID world. To find out more about how we can help you do the same, click on the button below to try Amplify™ today.