Rethink everything. This is the mantra for leaders right now. While the time is certainly right for a rethink, a review or a reconsideration as we contemplate a re-entry, a restart or a reinvention (okay enough with the re words) of our businesses, it is hard to find the time right now.
We are busier than ever. We are under pressure. And for good measure now we should rethink everything? How?
The bottom line is you can’t, and you probably shouldn’t. You do not have time for fishing expeditions and most likely you have some things working well in your business that does not need rethinking.
What you can do is to focus your rethinking on three questions;
- Where is the company going?
- What is mission critical to future success?
- Am I rethinking with insights or just information?
1. Where is the company going?
This is the first thing to think about because your rethink needs context. Otherwise, you will end up rethinking everything because everything will seem important. And it isn’t.
Your company’s vision, positioning, brand promise and purpose are all worth spending some time rethinking. Think about your current direction; are you on course? Has the last 15 months pushed you off course? Is your new course the right course for the business? Have changes in needs and behaviours in both employees and customers altered your purpose and promise?
(to read more on the significant shifts in our needs and behaviours see Change the Trajectory of your Business)
If you answered yes to any of these questions, stop and spend some time here on the “where is the company going” question. It will save you from rethinking everything and keep you focused on the important things as you navigate the choppy market conditions ahead.
I have a tool, The 10 Vital Questions, that can guide you quickly to a set of answers to this key question. It is part of the Thrive program so reach out to me and we can talk about putting it to work for your business.
2. What is mission critical to future success?
My advice to clients begins with a truism; “companies cannot be successful until their employees and customers are.” So it follows that the most important areas of your business are; employees, customers, and the company, specifically its Culture of Things (for more on the Culture of Things see Things about Culture).
Start with the three areas of employee health: physical, financial and mental. We all have some angst around re-entry to the workplace so recognize it, talk about it and solve it, together.
Think about the future of work in your organization. How will work get done now? Where will it get done? This can be a labyrinth of work so start small. Focus on what has worked and not worked in the past year and understand why. We have found that a small audit can be very useful in engaging employees in creating their own solutions.
We are instructed to put on our own oxygen masks first before helping others on aircraft. In business, we must help our employees first before helping customers.
Many of your customers or clients have struggled, adapted and changed in the past 15 months. It may be time to rethink how your company helps them be successful in future. Think about the pressing issues and possible opportunities that you can help solve and resolve. Have needs and/or behaviours changed? Have these changes affected purchase intent, customer journey and decision criteria? Have customer expectations of your company and its products and services changed?
One of the exercises that have proven successful in answering these questions is the hybrid Empathy Mapping/Design Thinking tool. The bottom line is what do your customers (and their customers possibly) need to be successful and how can you deliver?
Culture of Things
Companies have adapted work flows, created new processes, dropped and added products and services. Very few organizations are choosing to go back to the “old normal”. (See Change the Trajectory of your Business for more on this trend) and instead are exploring ways to rejuvenate their culture. Rethinking here could include questions such as what processes and systems worked best in the past year? What did not and why? Were there work-arounds created at the process-user level that has proven effective?
Other questions that will add real value to your rethink; what values did the company lean into the past year? What values resonated most with employees and customers? In my experience, company success starts with the conditions of success being present and accessible to employees and customers. The Culture Audit tool we use with clients is successful in surfacing and designing the “right” conditions for employees and customers.
3. Am I rethinking with insights or just information?
To avoid inadvertently fixing something in your business that is not broken focus on insights versus information. Information paints a picture, but insight gets you into the head of the painter. If you are going to make changes to your business that take time and money, where do you want to be?
Insights are critical to the depth and quality of your decisions. Do not settle for just information. Not now. Not when you are busier than ever and under pressure. Resist the urge to react fast and instead respond with agility.
If you need fresh perspective and insight to change the state of your business, relationships with employees or customers or revenue (often all three as they are inter-related) try these questions because after all, who has time to rethink everything.
Find out more about how a focused, agile rethink can move your business forward by coming over to the Thrive page and we can discuss it further.