Covid-19 trilogy. PART 2: The CompanyWise post Covid-19 vision on organisational structure.

Apr 22, 2020
Frieda Janssens

Several books have been written about change management. Many like to believe that it’s a difficult and often impossible task to implement change sustainably. As a facilitator of transformation processes, CompanyWise consultants are often confronted with variable degrees of change capacity in organisations. 

The following quote from Nisha Singh has been writhing in my brain since the Covid-19 measures: “You change for 2 reasons: you either learn enough that you want to, or you've been hurt enough that you have to. “

It means there are 2 reasons to change: urge as we want to, coercion as we have to.

The process since March 13th teaches us that people are extremely adaptable: despite the drastic and forcing measures, and after being recovered from the first shock, an atmosphere of resilience, solidarity and creativity has emerged.

In Covid-19 sounding board conversations we have with CEO’s, they express justified pride and gratitude about their teams: how they meet virtually and gather new ideas, how they continue to serve customers in often difficult circumstances, how they support each other in difficult personal situations, ...

Despite the physical distance, many people find a new way of social interaction and connection by being meaningful to each other. Solidarity that tends towards energy and hope!

In addition a feeling of common spirit emerges: C-suite is looked at to re-examine the path taken in function of the higher goal while the organisation is impatient to execute the decisions taken together. 

Are these signals the harbinger of a total revolution? Will collaboration become more human, authentic and pleasant? Or, when economy picks up, will solidarity been seen as an "interim solution" that will be cornered as redundant?

At least, CompanyWise relies on a growing awareness among entrepreneurs that using the full talent palette of their human resources benefits performance and development.

We are convinced of the lasting effects of Covid-19 on organizational structures:

VUCA (*) is of great presence, agility is the message.

VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. The four characteristics of a rapidly changing world, requiring smooth collaboration and more alignment. Purely functional organisations have been under pressure for some time now as roles and responsibilities are inconsistent, leading to mutual competition, rigidity and inefficiency. 

Organisations mainly benefit from a structure that allows units to function as independently as possible. Within each unit, one or more multifunctional teams, organised around a goal and within a clear framework can, at all times, respond adequately to customer expectations. Team members are agile and can take on different roles according to the need.

Processes and procedures need better documentation for increasing resilience in case of exceptional absenteeism. Everyone who is involved should quickly get a complete picture: insight and overview of the process. What only lives in people's heads cannot be reproduced in case of pandemic failure.

Decision making must be quicker and will be based on arguments that are good enough and safe enough to try. You're too late if you wait for all information to be available.  

Continuity plans are in need of revision.

A contingency plan to mitigate the socio-economic impact of a similar pandemic becomes necessary for any organisation wishing to grow. Now more than ever, employees have a key role to play in maintaining the highest possible level of activity. They will want to continue to do so. It is up to business leaders to proactively include and acknowledge their participation.

Spreading supply chain risks will be necessary. More alternatives lead to more complexity. Embracing complexity can only be achieved if the flows of goods and information are attuned to each other. Technology on the one side, and efficient consultation across departments on the other side will go hand in hand. 

Working remotely, another form of risk spreading, has become indispensable. How are employees aware if they are doing the right thing? How to ensure continuity? They will ask for clear agreements and participation in order to strengthen the mutual bond of trust. 

How can you review your organisational structure?

In crisis situations, strengths and weaknesses are magnified immediately. An ideal opportunity to learn from this crisis and prepare for the future. Maybe you can start with a KDL exercise with your teams: Keep what’s going well, Develop what can improve, and Let go what creates too much energy losses.

We bet that a process analysis will be necessary to distinguish the symptoms from the real problems. That dialogue requires more relevance and efficiency. And that you will be blown off your socks by the voice of the minority: their wisdom can lead to eye-openers!

You, as an entrepreneur, are eager to restart your organisation into a well-oiled machine. The temptation to move forward with full force will be great. But as mentioned in the first blog, courage and perseverance make the difference for a totally new future.

With an objective external view, CompanyWise can also broaden your scope. Check our CompanyScan and receive advice immediately.


PS. In our third blog of the Covid-19 trilogy, we dive deeper into the possible disruption of the governing body,

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