Saturday, Jan 28



When the pandemic hit, it threw everything and everyone from their linear progression in attaining the profit and growth they desire. While this was unfolding, organizations were not left out of the implication of the health hazards that led to an era of shutdowns, hybrid work, and reversals, that quickly gained pre-eminence. In a little over a year, the virus has gone through mutation and many nations have gone through second to fourth waves when the attainment of herd immunity was forecasted with the administration of breakthrough in vaccines.

The charade of the virus in signalling and fomenting the fizzling out of its dominance, has left a sour taste in the mouth of struggling economies and businesses which have vowed to fight back barring any vulnerability intending to ground their efforts or incapacitate their progress. Galloping to the rescue of organizations was an ‘age-old’ solution to a fairly new problem.

The panacea came in the form of technology strutting its way through dark clouds and offering tested regions and economies a relatively new prospects even in the midst of mutating virus and variants whiles renewed surges in case counts threaten the very existence of dreams and hopes of nations. As the axiom goes, it gets worse before it gets better and organizations are progressively seeing the silver lining with the dominance of technology offering a pathway for companies to dock safely on the harbour of success. The COVID-19 crisis seemingly provides a sudden glimpse into a future world, one in which digital has become fundamental to every interaction, forcing both organizations and individuals further up their need for it.

A world in which digital channels become the primary customer-engagement model, and automated processes become a primary driver of productivity. Technology is offering a utopia in which McKinsey describes as a “world in which agile ways of working are a prerequisite to meeting seemingly daily changes to customer behaviour”.


Acquisition. Ironically, the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the need for new workforce skills and now is the apt opportunity and time for business leaders to unlearn, learn and adapt to new ways of approaching business decisions and interactions. Going beyond comfort zones require taking an end-to-end view of your business and operating models.

Albeit for a CEO his resources are necessarily limited, particularly due to the pandemic, the experience of leading companies suggests that focusing on areas that touch more on the core of your business will give you the best chance of success, in both the near and the longer term, than making minor improvements to noncore areas. Interestingly, the inexhaustible vastness on the topic of technology is brought to the fore of conversation.

Routinely, it is more prominent through the abrupt transition to virtual operations and interactions catered for by the pandemic for both inside and outside organizations of ingenious CEOs. That notwithstanding, it fundamentally provides an opportunity to accelerate a leader’s capacity in learning about and adoption of technologies with which his organization might have only begun to experiment. Boldness is a prerequisite quality for leaders to make required initiatives to bring desired results in the growth of the organization regardless of how painful and uncomfortable the process may be.

According to McKinsey, organizations that make minor changes to the edges of their business model nearly always fall short of their goals. “Tinkering leads to returns on investment below the cost of capital and to changes (and learning) that are too small to match the external pace of disruption. In particular, organizations rapidly adopting AI tools and algorithms, as well as design thinking, and using those to redefine their business at scale have been outperforming their peers. This will be increasingly true as companies deal with large amounts of data in a rapidly evolving landscape and look to make rapid, accurate course corrections compared with their peers”.

It argued that in this era of accelerated change, adaptability not only can but must be nurtured. Developing the adaptability muscle requires self-care, a focus on purpose, the ability to recognize the default mindset, deeper connections with colleagues, and an environment where it is safe to learn. By this, large-scale government overhauls are always challenging, but are particularly difficult in times of crisis, when leaders are under pressure to deliver fast results.

When confronted with a crisis of this magnitude, boldness and learning is a currency to purchasing survival. Currently, most companies know how to pilot new digital initiatives in “normal” times. However, there are still some select numbers who pursue such initiative and at a scale required by the COVID-19 crisis. Truly, some leaders are still trying to find their footing and reconciling the stark differences between the demands of the ‘normal times’ and the ‘new normal’. In their unrelenting capacity, shareholders of companies are demanding returns, with finance departments keeping tight hold of the funds needed to move new initiatives forward quickly. On the other turf, customers are often slow to latch on to new culture of things especially when they have to chuck out learned ways of doing thing.

Nonetheless, their cooperation ability has been upped as they have increasingly found technology and latest innovation apt for improved services. One thing is definite in all these, organizational culture, with its deeply grooved silos, hinder agility and collaboration. Due to this, companies invariably experiment at a pace that contradicts its potential to match the rate of change around them, thereby decelerating their ability to learn fast enough to match the dominant speed. Moreover, they rarely embrace the bold action needed to move quickly from piloting initiatives to scaling the successful ones.

This, essentially creates a digital lipstick. For instance, within the online media space, every areas of operation whether content generation, reach, pricing and advertising revolves around some level of digital process. However, that is not the comprehensive exploration of what embodies online media. Beyond the superficial, there are other profound ways and adoptions of unharnessed models which can help online media owners scale up. Putting on a digital lipstick is easy to do for both you and your competitors.

It does not confer McKinsey’s experience is that dual focus on performance and organizational health leads to the most successful transformations. As it stands now, leaders are likely to be ‘compassion-fatigued’ especially when they had to give up more than just resources and time to keep their organizations afloat. Barring such fatigue, a lot more needs to be done in order to ensure total ‘deliverance’ from the ensnarement of the pandemic and an upward trajectory of success for the organization.