PREVIEW: Enabling Post-COVID Innovation (Jan 2021)
Updated: Jan 22
This is a preview of the Super Tribe and Innovation Insights exclusive material available here. This is a recap of the innovation insights I shared as a speaker, during my workshop at the Toronto Agile Conference 2020. The goal of the workshop was to share a strategic, iterative approach towards building resilient businesses during the pandemic. The Super Tribe post includes the full workshop video recording.
I had the honour of hosting an online workshop during the prestigious 2020 Toronto Agile Conference. This was an interactive session with attendees from at least 7 different industries. I shared my work as a consultant over the last 14 years with focus on building, transforming and scaling businesses. In particular, I shared how the last 13 years varied from the pandemic year and what is required for the business success post-COVID. **Spoiler alert…
… the answer is resilience, delivered through business agility. Resilience drives innovation by default.
TL;DR? Scroll to the bottom for a full session recording.
We began the conversation by discussing how most medium-to-large organizations tackled transformations in the pre-COVID era. After any major change, the focus was on re-aligning the key operations towards a new end-state. This end-state was thought to enable an ideal business model (a.k.a. the ‘North Star’).
The transformative work efforts within the organization were carefully planned and managed through multi-year transformative programs. The program would map the annual milestones needed to complete the fundamental change. The organization would inch towards the ‘North Star’, with planned investments each year. This usually worked well since the unpredictability expected in the market was more manageable pre-COVID. Any internal and external changes could be accommodated with adjustments to the program, at a cost.
The strategy was defined typically at the start and it’s execution continued through the transformative program. This was primarily a waterfall-like affair in the pre-COVID world. There were parts of this program which were delivered iteratively —for instance, Agile tech enablement.
The biggest pill to swallow is that this approach requires a pre-defined end-state. There is an immense risk in taking this approach during the pandemic— what assumptions should the businesses make? There are no previous trends to review. The probability of multiple changes at the same time is much higher now, due to uncertainty across multiple macro and micro dimensions.
Even pre-COVID, the teams would eventually become married to the end-state (well, their jobs would…). No one in their right mind would call-out the issues with the end-state, after the time and cost investments were confirmed by the leadership. We also hardly expected the customer behaviour and everything else under the sun to change every week!
As I shared in a previous post, to be successful in the global and local landscapes today, a business must be resilient. Over the last year, I conducted practical research at a global level. I compared and contrasted what leads to sustained success in various situations. I also performed successful pilots with small, medium and large client firms in 3 industries. My core finding was as follows…
A business can sustain post-COVID resilience and success with: 1. a strategy to understand unpredictability, 2. customer alignment at all times, and 3. a faster time-to-market.
Then, I identified five elements that must be present for a business to deliver the three conditions mentioned above.
More specifically, I shared how any organization can enable a successful strategy to withstand unpredictability. During the workshop, I used a grocery store business as a case study; reviewing scenarios with either physical or online store presence. (Watch the recording below to experience the case studies).
Next, I used Apple as a micro case study to share an example of the organizational governance, which is needed to enable a resilient strategy.
To take it one step further, I also shared how the task-level work effort can be aligned across the entire organization. This is done successfully with a product-centric approach, instead of the traditional project-based mindset. Projects end, but products live on and demand alignment with the customer journey.
This session served as a high level overview of the various elements needed to deliver business resilience and success during the pandemic. A single one-hour session is hardly enough to dive into the details. This is why, I plan to create a library over the next little while, focused on each of the elements required for success.
Along with this, I will host live online workshops for direct conversations with you. We will review real-life case studies — what does each element represents in detail and how to implement it for repeat success at your organization? After all, that is the whole point of business agility — deliver success, rinse, and repeat. It would be an honour to have you at these sessions for a spirited knowledge-exchange.
Until then, stay safe and productive!
Full Session Recording
Reach out to me for strategy, governance, planning thought leadership on post-COVID innovation efforts. I ensure scalability and resilience.