We feel the need... the need for speed

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Even before the pandemic, the world was moving at an increased speed. Then COVID-19 hit, and while some things ground to a shuddering halt, others were pushed forward. A world – and by extension, business – in crisis requires rational thinking coupled with swift implementation. Not an easy feat. And yet a crucial one!

As reported by McKinsey & Company, executives and directors say their companies are making extensive changes to increase the speed at which they adjust strategic direction, make and implement tactical decisions, and deploy resources. One executive in the healthcare sector stated, “We were able to deploy an enterprise-wide virtual care solution in a matter of weeks, because that is all we had. This rollout had been planned for over a year, prior to this.”

It is certainly true that necessity is the mother of invention: “because that is all we had” is a refrain that echoes throughout the business world. In fact, business agility has always been a key driver and benchmark of notably successful operations. And now it’s abundantly clear that a business’s ability to rapidly and accurately assess a situation and then pivot quickly is essential.

According to Satellite Markets & Research, the pandemic has resulted in a seismic shift in how companies’ approach, develop and implement the very concept of speed. Though commonly associated directly with innovation, speed in business encompasses so much more. Very successful companies take progressive measures to ensure that all facets of their business become and remain as nimble as possible.

COVID-19 did more than force speed; it actually imposed a set of circumstances that promoted it. For example, faced with more and more employees working remotely, some leaders took steps to accelerate technology adoption that enabled this transition. Marketing and capex (capital expenditure) budgets were realigned to online operations and e-commerce. In turn, this also led organizations to be more customer focused, using virtual engagement to understand customers’ needs and new delivery models to respond to them swiftly.

Furthermore, given the current lack of in-person interaction, employees have been encouraged to communicate more. In the McKinsey & Company report, one executive explained how this also led to faster results: “Higher meeting attendance and timeliness [resulted in faster decisions] on staff, budget, returning to the office, and response to social issues.” Another executive noted that “communication between employees and executives has become more frequent and transparent, and as such, messages are traveling much more efficiently”. This heightened agility is obviously part of a crisis-management situation – but many of these lessons learned can be sustained beyond the pandemic.

Of course, we can’t talk about the need for speed without paying some attention to innovation. And we can’t provide insight without talking about “boots on the ground”: tactical solutions in various sectors. One example, as reported in Deloitte Insights, highlights a mobile car cleaning and disinfection service that scrapped a two-year national rollout plan and instead went national in just two weeks.

Another way to move faster is by repurposing. This includes pharma companies repositioning, or repurposing, existing drugs for new conditions such as COVID-19; cosmetics and whiskey distilleries producing hand sanitizer; and various manufacturers (like Dyson®) shifting production capacity to ventilators or personal protective equipment such as face shields and masks. Cascades has been helping in the fight against COVID-19, specifically when it comes to protecting essential workers and employees who still need to be physically at work. For example, in April we began working with, Tristan and Bauer to supply recycled plastic for medical visors. We also developed recyclable, customizable cardboard dividers for floors and tables to promote safe social distancing in workplace settings.

What’s clear is that speed, in and of itself, is not enough. Speed must be approached by companies that train to be fast. In other words, speed will now be proactive and, yes, in some instances reactive. But the goal will be that the reaction is a pivot that has already been factored in. We will be prepared for significant changes – because now we know from experience that they are, indeed, coming.


Source: Cascades PRO