This future is not silently tiptoeing in, it has its foot in the door and can’t be kicked out. We can either actively shape this new era – or we can let it shape us. If we remain in a state of shock, not only will nothing go forwards, but it will also offer agile competitors to catch up. This is why the helmsman’s hand should not freeze up, especially in challenging waters.
You will only be among the winners of tomorrow by fully taking the new realities into account. Here are today’s most important success factors as I see them. I make no claim that this list is complete, and I invite any and all discussion.
A commentary from our CEO Thomas Helbing. Published on LinkedIn on 16 April 2020.
My personal approach is ‘If you can’t fight it, embrace it’.Thomas Helbing, CEO, Ray Sono
Sustainable relationships are emerging now
Examining the crisis under a magnifying glass makes it increasingly clear who I can really trust and who is going to leave me standing in the rain when I most need help. As a customer, as a supplier, as an employee, as a business partner. These experiences will be formative for a long time.
Now is the time that customer relationships are being made
When a company actively lives its own values even under extremely difficult conditions, this has a particularly deep and sustainable effect. Because especially now, customers need help. Communication. Orientation. Not by us looking down at them, but as friends who are in the same boat. Those who help others, allow closeness, and communicate at eye level create customer loyalty for life.
Strength through cooperation
In the new economy, the lone wolf is obsolete. In the long term, it will be a pack shouldering the work together that wins. Mutual trust and close cooperation are thus critical to success. Your own team becomes a second family. Companies form networks at all levels, from local to global. Competitors work together trustfully in subdivisions. This new spirit of cooperation creates completely new power centers. Today, those who do not think and work in relationships look very old-fashioned and will be extinct tomorrow.
Now, loyal employees are found
Does my boss care about me or does he just disappear when things are tough? Does he communicate clearly or does he leave me in the lurch? The opposite perspective also applies: Who gets the most work done at home, instead of turning on Netflix the same time every night? Who keeps my home office going with good IT support? And who continues to clean and disinfect my workplace with stoic devotion? During the crisis, the stability of companies and their executives’ values are currently being tested. With corresponding consequences for the near future – a new feeling of closeness is being created and old loyalties are being questioned. Because nobody wants to work for fair weather captains who quickly withdraw into their warm cabins when a storm comes.
Explosion of acceptance for new paths
The time is ripe, the fresh wind of a new era is in the air. Wherever the established and familiar formulas no longer function, opportunities and freedoms are arising that have never been seen before. Those who occupy such niches now will find grateful and loyal customers.
Trust instead of control
The rule “never go home before the boss leaves” is no more. In a world of self-determined work, of agility, and of home office, a control-based management style and culture of mistrust of one’s own employees is a significant competitive disadvantage. After all, those who have become accustomed to autonomous work don’t want to go back to the old days. It’s high time to look at methods like OKR (objectives and key results).
Regional is the new normal
For many customers, dealing with regional suppliers, products and services remains important. Despite higher prices and more complicated ordering processes. Just to avoid getting back into no-alternative dependencies. But also due to a healthy new self-image and dose of self-confidence – we Europeans are shaping our future together. In case of emergency, even without a one-click order.
My friend the robot
The desire for a secure continuation of processes even in critical situations is fuelling the acceptance of automation in business and society. Be it the chatbot in support, the crop robot in agriculture or the parcel-sorting robot in the warehouse – the trend is unstoppable. Good leadership ensures that not only the customers, but also employees, benefit from this and can devote themselves to more demanding tasks.
No future without digitisation
The crisis shows that digitisation helps prevent risk and is the basis for a successful future. The strategy of riding things out, however, is seriously ill and has a very poor prognosis.
Digital is the new normal
It’s actually obvious, but not everyone is aware of it. Digital products and services have become a hygiene factor. For the vast majority of companies, there is no return to a purely analogue world. And the little web shop doesn’t do it anymore either. Corona has stopped any discussion about the pros and cons of multichannels in its tracks. Those who do not perform in this area will be replaced by the customer without a second thought.
New business models are emerging
More than ever, the world needs creative solutions to problems both old and new. And as always with such great changes, it will be the bold, the capable, the flexible, the creative, and the inventors who are lucky. Those who hesitate will have to stand by and watch the new digital skins being distributed and the sacred cows being slaughtered.
Calling structures and processes into question
Many executives are using the current stress test to critically question their organisational status quo: Are the right people still doing the right things? How can I become more flexible and agile than my competitors? Where am I wasting valuable time with processes that could be automated – not only for customers but also for employees? A little consolation: If you can perform all essential management tasks largely from your home office, you’ve taken the first step.
Digital education is booming
Software developers are among the winners of this crisis. Either they are still well-employed, or they are using their free time to continue their education. Hardly any other professional group is doing this with more efficiency and as a matter of course. And usually completely digital, from free YouTube videos to expensive Master Classes. At the latest, regular digital continuing education must become a mantra for all other professions. Because wherever customer demands are rising, wherever proven results are being resolved every minute, and wherever one’s own knowledge has a half-life of only months, no one can rest on old laurels from yesteryear.
My conclusion about all of this is
If we don’t use the current destruction creatively in the sense of Schumpeter, who will? Know-how, methods, processes, and risk capital are available. We must act fearlessly – but in contrast to the olden days, in coordination with others and with no impulsive solo efforts. Challenge accepted!