Strategic planning during the pandemic: Leading Digital Resilience (part 2)

September 14, 2020

Strategic planning during the pandemic: Leading Digital Resilience (part 2)

Now more than ever digital transformation is a must for many businesses if they want to survive, and therefore leading digital resilience is paramount. CEOs and leaders of all sectors have a crucial role to play in developing both practical solutions and game-changing innovations while protecting employees and customers’ health and safety. According to Dr Anthony Fauci, a vaccine or a highly effective treatment that is widely available is going to take 12 to 18 months (as stated on April 30), therefore, companies must ensure that their operating models and cost structure can support that length of time. When companies pass successfully a crisis, in general terms the common factors are: they acted early; they took a long-term perspective, or they focused on growth, as well as cost reduction, on this article we will focus on points 2 and 3.

1. Leading digital resilience starts with transforming mindsets and behaviors

As we mentioned in Part 1, one of the first things that leaders must do is to organize a team to handle crisis management, however, once the crisis has been averted, the leader or the organization must align the workforce with the new direction of the organization, meaning shifting mindsets and behaviors. According to McKinsey, the influence model can shed light on the new transformations that must take place in an agile way. These four elements are:

  • Understanding and conviction
  • Reinforcement with formal mechanisms
  • Confidence and skill building
  • Rol modeling

Organizations that successfully undergo change address all four elements of the influence model

McKinsey Influence Model for leading digital resilience

McKinsey Influence Model for leading digital resilience


Understanding and conviction

An important element for people to adopt a change is to believe in the reasons behind, then, they will be inspired to change their behaviors. Many leaders assume that the reason is obvious, then fail to communicate it. Leaders can take the following actions to implement understanding and conviction during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Be transparent and timely. As openly acknowledged where early messaging was inconsistent. Emphasize that it reflected what officials understood of the coronavirus at the time, that understanding has greatly improved since then, how it has improved, and that it may continue to evolve. As new evidence emerges, communicate the updates in a timely fashion. Now is very important to be more transparent, and share the way leaders are taking decisions, and why they are taking it.

When communities adopt behavioral changes such as adopting social distancing, regularly washing hands, and wearing facemasks appear to have contributed to the initial control of virus spread in some locations. Because of this transformation, countries like Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, and Taiwan were able to reduce, or keep control of the number of COVID-19 cases.

  • Consider reframing a message.Why would an otherwise well-intentioned person not engage in behavior that is seemingly obvious? People struggle to act on facts that don’t align with their frames of reference. Getting individuals to change behaviors may require reframing the message to one that is meaningful and specific to them.

In the pandemic context, some people react negatively to lockdowns as actions that seem to be taking away freedoms and shutting down economic activity. For certain segments of the population, reframing messaging from “restrict my freedom” (which people will fight) to “help me save the economy” or “help my family return to normal” (which few will oppose) might be helpful. Or as Gartner’s Mary Mesaglio states: the leader’s primary responsibility is to keep the team safe, cohesive and productive….therefore, “The 10x10x10 rule applies here: Say something 10 times in 10 different ways for people to retain 10%”

  • Have a credible messenger. As mentioned in part 1, organizations need to designate single points of contact to facilitate seamless engagement with […]authorities, and other key internal and external stakeholders, which may mean having senior leaders publicly partner with a scientific advisor and share updates jointly, and acknowledge when decisions are tied to data.
  • Appeal to different sources of meaning.The compelling “why” for one individual may not resonate with another person. McKinsey suggests that employees find meaning across five sources:
    • having a positive impact on society,
    • wanting the best for their organizations,
    • providing superior service for their customers,
    • having positive relationships with their teams, and
    • reaching their personal development goals.
Reinforcement with formal mechanisms

Reinforcement is not the same as enforcing, is more about Friendly reminding people to do the right thing, and Provide positive reinforcement, with data transparency, that is to say, explaining the “why”.

Confidence and skill building

When talking “Leading Digital Resilience”, Confidence and skill building come down to ensuring that people have the information and skills required to do things differently—and feel able to do so. When individuals are confident in their ability to change, they can create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Role modeling

People mimic and learn—both consciously and subconsciously—from the individuals and groups that surround them. One of the best ways to drive the adoption of new behaviors is by ensuring that the people who individuals trust most are modeling the appropriate behaviors.

2. Reskill

Digital skills are still in short supply, and remote working for all employees places remote and online freelancers on a more equal footing with full-time employees. Even in other talent categories, temporary labor usually responds more quickly in a crisis recovery, as employers value flexibility during its early (and uncertain) stages. That is an acceleration of a preexisting trend: many companies were already using remote interviewing for on-campus hiring before the pandemic. That trend can be expected to continue in the post pandemic era. Learning and growing Learning organizations face a tension between continuing cost pressures in a downturn and the need to deliver training to help workers adapt to a changing organization and business environment.

3. Digital Adoption, Maturity, transformation

Even before the COVID-19 crisis erupted, many companies were struggling to keep pace with technological change. The challenge for leading digital resilience has only accelerated since the pandemic began, bringing a growing realization into sharp focus: the future of work and life will be more digital than people previously imagined. With almost every organization having to depend on data, analytics, digital tools, and automation, digital technologies will constitute an increasingly critical element of business resilience tomorrow. But as a BCG study shows “employers had no time to prepare the staff for the shift to remote work”, the study found 4 factors related to employee perceptions:

  • Social connectivity, employees who reported satisfaction with social connectivity with their colleagues are 2 to 3 times more likely to have maintained or improved their productivity. Social connectivity is what enables us to be more collaboratively productive. It is not a coincidence that a McKinsey study and a Gartner Podcast  both state: what about the social capital built up through years of water-cooler conversations, meetings, and social engagements? These breaks and activities should be encouraged although on digital alternatives. When the workers are moved remotely one of the things they’re missing is the sense of community that they might have in a physical location, there are creative ways to bind people together, like virtual happy hours.
  • Mental health, be more flexible, be aware that workers are now working from home they might have kids seeking attention or other issues.
  • Physical health, make sure your employees have a good desk and chair, keep active pauses, respect the right to disconnect, and,
  • Workplace tools, something as simple as a printer, -making sure that employees that need a working printer actually have one- could avoid a lot of problems and stress.

For more information on leading digital resilience and successful re-opening strategies during Covid-19 Contact us, we can help.

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