Current Global Crisis Is A Wake-up Call To Build Enduring And Humane Organizations

Bubble of flawed ease and denial has been burst as the global pandemic known as COVID-19 has taken over every business by storm, worldwide, which acts as a cautionary light to put together humanitarian institutes.

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The ongoing global health crisis has impacted thousands of lives, resulting in economic downturn continues to bruise businesses of all sizes. Many of us are in shock and denial, and cannot estimate the eventual effect on nations and communities. One thing is for sure, the new normal is getting defined as we speak - replete with confusion and complexity. I remember conversations during the 2008 recession on how it will dampen no-holds-barred growth. Muted optimism was predicted. Most it has proved true -we are indeed witnessing VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) at its worst.

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The survivors will mostly be organizations that have follow fundamentally sound business practices, and have a huge heart to take care of their employees and partners. In the world of start-ups and venture capital, we will continue to tread carefully. The euphoria of the past has already been replaced with careful analysis and cautious optimism. Current socio-economic developments have reinforced the fact that start-ups need to work with game-changing vision and sound business models for long-term sustenance.

Despite the gloom and doom created by VUCA, there is hope. Changing demographics can be an opportunity to develop new market segments; technological advances can help businesses reach exponential scale; complexity can be a trigger to develop and apply new business models and volatility can be leveraged to develop strategies that keep enterprises closer to their customers. Regardless of size and age, all businesses need to accept the new reality. Instead of falling back to ad hoc and reactive responses, they need to build intrinsic strength and resilience to convert current and future challenges into opportunities to learn and innovate.

To cite a few examples: Today’s bluest-of-the-blue IBM has reinvented itself continuously from its inception to be the admired and successful company that we know it to be. Not many people recall that it has evolved its focus from weighing scales, coffee grinders, punched card equipment and even guns to cognitive computing and modern-day systems integration. This journey has not been without its pitfalls but with an unrelenting focus on innovation, customer service and human capital management, it has endured as an icon. To quote from the its archives, “The character of a company, the stamp it puts on its products, services, and the marketplace, is shaped and defined over time. It evolves. It deepens. It is expressed in an ever-changing corporate culture, in transformational strategies, and new and compelling offerings for customers.”

Google epitomizes the notion of being an enduring organization by innovating continuously in close partnership with its partners and customers. It has evolved from being an internet search company to a leading provider of advertisements, operating systems, automotive technology and so much more. Besides its prolific innovations, it also tops the charts in terms of profitability, growth and employee-focus. The fact that being a lasting association is more a journey than a destination is best reflected in the internet trailblazer Amazon’s belief that “This is Day One of the Internet”. “Day 1”, by the way, is also the name of one of their corporate offices in Seattle.

Continuing institutes are lean and mean learning machines. They are proactive about changing themselves, often in anticipation of external changes and sometimes because of internal triggers. Continuous innovations – incremental and breakthrough – are common in their culture, enabling them to outlive cycles of business, social and economic disruptions. They define and live by values that are humane, just and ecologically responsible. Such values help their employees know what they stand for and guide them in moments of crisis.

It is time to stop experimenting with short-term fixes. Instead, it is time to go back to the basics of constructing profitable, respected, and lasting organizations – one brick at a time. Such organizations are the answer to the question, “Will this business still be around a decade from now?”