“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
Many businesses are back in growth as the COVID19 scare has ebbed away. We need to take a pause to reflect on our past, learn from the experiences of our own and others; adapt our style while driving the business at a greater pace. Post-COVID, the world is different; hence, we must do something different to ride the wave.
Every organisation is hungry for opportunities and given the rapid developments in technology, those opportunities are being promptly seized upon to convert into products, services and revenues. Secondly, the smart people in the world have reaffirmed to themselves the potential benefits of collaboration. And thirdly, we have witnessed how fast a change in the form of a new virus can spread across the world and similarly a vaccine was developed at a speed the humanity hasn’t seen ever. This has reiterated the adage that the world is a small place.
We need our business to be super-agile, flexible, collaborative and ambitious. We must leverage technology to open new vistas and unsuspected possibilities for us; communicate within as well as externally to strike deeper collaboration; innovate new products, services, methods and systems to run our business effectively. The whole world can be the stage on which we can operate.
We have to embed the virtues needed for today’s reality in our strategy and day to day practices. It is easy to say that we have to embed agility in our sales, supply chain, production, finance and every other function. However, the real challenge is in spotting the opportunities and aligning them with the organisation’s interest and capability. Every organisation is unique in its own way because the top leaders have their own beliefs and styles; and hence, each organisation has to chart its own course while approaching the same opportunity. Paths to the destination will always be many and making the choices is the key step. Nobody knows the future, but the leader has to make estimates and build forecasts while making the choices.
For example, rural markets in India are an opportunity for all FMCG companies. To grow one’s share in the opportunity, there are many levers to push such as new products, higher margins, better distribution and more such. The top-level leadership team of the organisation has to make a choice which lever would they like to prioritise. Accordingly, the drivers are determined for the functions of sales, supply chain, R&D, production, finance, marketing, HR and IT. One organisation could say that they need to hire the top-tier MBA qualified people to drive the growth program in each department while the people strategy for another could say that they would pay the top quartile salaries to their salesforce. The execution of the two strategies is quite different from each other because the paths are different, but both are chasing the same goal to maximise their revenues from the rural market.
Some organisations vacillate after laying down their strategies creating confusion in execution. They either do not fully commit to the path chosen by them or make frequent changes in their approach. Changing the path is not a problem, but making frequent changes is a problem!
Often it is not the failure in strategy rather it is the sloppiness of execution that mars the results of an enterprise. Leaders need to make sure that their commitment to the initiatives taken is visible in the organisation equally by their words and deeds. They have to communicate and at the same time, be involved in execution by keeping a continuous watch and making course-corrections as required. They need to find better ways of doing the work and lead all change initiatives from the front.
This formula is not new; it is more critical than ever before because of the growing competitiveness in the days ahead and the high degree of flexibility needed to quickly adapt to the situation. Hence, enterprises need to keep their costs variable as much as possible and keep their operations firmly rooted in the precincts of their values, identity and strategic focus.
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