LEADING YOUR BUSINESS IN A TIME OF CRISIS

How to make the most of technology for COVID-19 recovery: 3 key moves for business leaders

Chris Cracknell Chris Cracknell

As a business leader, technology was likely at the forefront of your mind even before COVID-19. It’s undoubtedly an even greater priority now.

AI, Robotic Process Automation, Blockchain, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and other technologies are excellent tools for getting the organisation back on track, so you can build greater resiliency in the face of future disruptions. Many of our business advisory clients ask for guidance in these areas, and they are right to do so.

It’s important to remember, however, that technological tools by themselves are not the answer. The people who use them are the real drivers of growth – but they must be given the appropriate guidance.

To ensure that your business gets the most value out of technology adoption, leaders should take the following steps:

 

  1. Clearly and openly communicate the new direction of the company to your team

Proper integration of new technology doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long road with many obstacles. That’s why it’s crucial for you to set a clear goal at the outset, and make sure that everyone in the organisation understands exactly where the company needs to be headed.

You also need to communicate the reasoning behind the new direction. The where will be much more meaningful to your people if they also understand the why. For instance, say you’re adopting Robotic Process Automation for certain tasks. That in and of itself is not the goal. The goal should be a specific business outcome such as “increasing production by 15%”.

If you can get everyone in the organisation striving towards the same long-term objective, this goal can serve as a guiding light – a North Star that will always indicate the way forward no matter the stage of the journey.

 

  1. Solicit ideas from front-line staff

While direction should come from the top, ideas can come from anywhere. Your front-line staff can be a fantastic resource if you listen to them carefully. These members of your workforce deal directly with customers each day, and are therefore most in tune with the needs of the marketplace. Oftentimes, they’ll be able to come up with solutions that would never have occurred to anyone in the C-suite.

But these staff members will not likely speak up unless they are encouraged to do so. Your job as a leader, therefore, is to foster an environment in which every member of the organisation feels valued and empowered.

Of course, staff may be able to pitch ideas during meetings – but traditional meetings aren’t always the best platform. The words of those in higher positions tend to carry more weight in such environments. Moreover, some team members simply don’t feel comfortable speaking up in meetings, no matter how nurturing the environment is.

Online channels can be extremely useful here. Set up a platform where employees can share their ideas in writing – a virtual suggestion box of sorts. This initiative will allow employees to carefully craft their thoughts and share them without the pressure of having to speak up in front of an audience. In many cases, soliciting ideas in this way can be more productive than a standard brainstorming session.

 

  1. Decentralise your company’s innovation engine

Your focus as a leader should always be on the bigger picture. So, empower your organisation’s departments to lead their own innovation projects based on their direct expertise.

Removing the bottlenecks of hierarchy, while encouraging a culture of sensible experimentation, will greatly enhance the organisation’s capacity for creative ideation.

Of course, to avoid information siloing, you should also ensure that all departments keep open channels of communication with each other. Some of the very best ideas arise from healthy collaboration across teams.

 

Unlocking the door to your full potential

The way forward is digital; that much is clear. You’ll want to move all your organisational data to the cloud, enhance your e-commerce infrastructure, digitalise your supply chains, and automate production as far as possible.

But proper business advisory is all about encouraging the right perspective. As you guide your organisation forward in these uncertain times, always remember where your true value lies. Technology may be the key, but the people in your organisation will be the ones who actually turn it.