Guest Post By Linda McGaw
Speculations were rife regarding the COVID-19 pandemic between mid-to-late 2019 in Wuhan City, China. In Kenya, news of the first reported case was received with much anxiety around mid-March 2020. The world began shutting down before our very own eyes, with a tragic departure from economics to a rare race for human survival.
It came at a time when governments, businesses, and most individuals had neither the time nor resources to mitigate its effect. The risk management experts were blind-sided, the healthcare workers were caught flat-footed and the economic vibrance abruptly slowed down the world over.
Who knew what we were dealing with and how we got here, many questions lingered. People lost their loved ones, countries such as India, and Brazil has buried people in their thousands, with no end in sight while some deaths go undercounted.
An infinite number of corporations have become defunct, others are barely surviving, many in the tech space are thriving while Startups are bootstrapping across the continent.
People’s livelihoods have changed tremendously, so much so that there was a 7.6% surge in mental health illnesses notably among the productive workers as of April 2020. While the analysis is cringe-worthy, the end is nigh.
“The difference between a pebble and a mountain lies in whom you ask to move it.” – Marcus Buckingham
A survey conducted by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) in 2020 on the COVID-19 pandemic impact on Kenya’s economy indicated that 61% of organizations were affected by the containment measures across the globe.
Many if not most organizations are struggling to manage unprecedented risks that had zero resources allocated to mitigate against. The skeptical paradox being the COVID-19 pandemic is somehow the great equalizer, such that different economies across the globe are enduring almost similar challenges.
Amidst massive loss of lives, company closures, a looming housing bubble, and a perennial loss of livelihood, there is a growing intent to change. An urgency to transform one’s perspective, social status, business strategy, philosophy, and to an extent the pre-existing values. Both individuals and organizations are forced to adapt to the new, some introspection comes into play however stubborn forces against change appear to be.
It is crucial for business leaders to manage expectations during the transformation process. The process should be guided by a common purpose and the intent strategic enough for the organizations to level up. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, however, there are fundamental issues that cannot be overlooked. An unorthodox leadership approach is a key to unlocking the ‘digital’ stalemate, align its internal resources to the external forces, gain clarity on the environmental shift and restructure the business to fit into the new way of life.
“I believe you have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate.” –Jeff Bezos
Burr Sutter equated ”managing transformation to teaching an elephant to dance” and emphasized how ”IT agility is a stone that Startup David’s can use to unseat massive Goliaths’’. ”
The elephant in the room is a variety of key corporate issues such as the existing corporate culture, business processes, job designs, leadership teams, governance models, compensation and benefits structures, strategic intent, and many more; at least from an HR point of view.
Technology adoption is a game-changer and early adopters are abuzz. Companies such as Safaricom, Netflix, Tesla, Amazon, Flutterwave are unicorns that are constantly remodeling. Technology should provide a platform for organizations to move towards the unknown with greater efficiency, achieve amazing collaborations, and generate a huge impact.
How do we go about revolutionizing our organizations? While a study conducted by Kropp affirmed that ”32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure, ”Hamton retaliated that ”You don’t need an Ivy League diploma to get a job at Apple or Tesla – but you would get paid more on average if you had one.”
It is intriguing to learn that transformation is more than corporate restructuring and declaring certain positions redundant. It is the renewed outlook of our primary purpose, the new reality of environmental alignment, emerging collaborations, and the impact on the community.
Shifting from market to community-driven approach, re-engineering of the C-suite positions, diversified capabilities, optimization of the Tech squad, modernization of job designs that generate greater innovations, and walking away from the traditional business processes and unyielding policies.
It further calls for organizations to have receptiveness on matters of employee agreements and engagement, become empathy-driven, enhance cross-company collaborations (shared resource centers), and more so, develop an agile culture.
Linda McGaw is the Founder of DYNALIM Africa a private firm established in Nairobi, Kenya with the sole mandate of providing business process innovations. DYNALIM Africa achieves this through Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), and Professional Employer Organization (PEO) of HR support and auxiliary services.