Martin Salas

Transforming The Virus Into An Opportunity

Business Transformation

Published originally in LinkedIn on 07/20/2020

One of the very few positive aspects that the global pandemic has brought to us is the opportunity to assess carefully our true self, be it the organizational one (in the business world) or the personal one, trigging the chance to a potential positive transformation in both.

We relate this transformation to several concepts such as change, adaptability, continuous improvement, reinvention or others that have been mentioned a lot in this time of crisis.

The world transformation is comes almost along with words that helps it land in the realm of the tangible. In business: strategic, cultural, digital, organizational … and when in the private world, we talk about personal transformation. Both very important. Chances are you’re experiencing at least one these days.

The parallel between organizational and personal transformation is inevitable. The recommended sequence to start it and be successful is simple to state and sometimes difficult to implement: define the reason (strategic, the what), the purpose or the cultural (the why), and then the action (the how, organizational / digital).

Step 1: Strategic Transformation

Strategic transformation is normally associated with redefining the business model, redefining the way to achieve the goals by accelerating/improving the top line, the contact with customers and the cost reduction. All of them focus on productivity and effectiveness or value levers that for some reason were no longer effective. Today, that reason is the change in the external context: The pandemic, the new normal, the interruption of face-to-face personal interaction.

In the personal dimension, that strategic definition is the redefinition of where I want to take my career or my life in general (physical or spiritual). The pandemic has given us more quality time with ourselves and our families that led us to reflect on what is important in life as well as its fragility.

Who I want to be and what my legacy will be, that is the question we ask ourselves. Refocusing on chasing our true dreams, whether professional or emotional, is what ignites a rethinking of the goals and priorities in our lives. The medium-term objectives have been redefined based on the self-analysis of our desires, strengths and weaknesses. Having that clarity of where I want to go is critical in this phase.

Step 2: Cultural transformation

When a company aligns only physical or financial resources to implement a new strategy, it often loses direction, because it does not recognize that aligning the hearts and souls of employees is ultimately as important as having the perfect strategy. This is where change management becomes necessary, including building the pillars of the aspirational culture that supports the new direction.

Sharing the why, the purpose, and the superior reason, through cultural transformation, becomes of key importance, providing emotional support, as well as creating the capabilities, and processes that give a positive framework to behaviors that favor change.

PowerPoint, posters and slogans do not prevail, people do. Do you have doubts about how well change can go? Ask the lowest-ranking person on the team if they understand what is being done and why and you will get the answer. The same thing happens on a personal level, ask people who know you who you are and if you have changed versus who you were before consciously assuming the transformation to your new self.

The full and genuine conviction that this change is the best for everyone in the pursuit for well-being and happiness is what prepares us for the process. That personal purpose (personal but not selfish) is the key to action. Out of it comes discipline, the courage to get out of the comfort zone and to assume the habit of doing different things depending on what that change is because it nourishes and lays the foundation for that transformation.

Step 3: Organizational (or Digital) / Personal Transformation

In this phase, you don’t talk, you act. Organizational transformation or digital transformation are two entwined paths, perhaps the later the most important to achieve efficiencies, reach customers faster and more effectively or achieve productivity that multiplies organizational capabilities. Today is digital transformation, yesterday it was the industrial revolution, globalization, the introduction of the personal computer, etc. There will always be something new.

Digitization is a means not an end. Having planned the transition from analog to digital in terms of resources, equipment, investments, generation of channels and rearrangement of the business model, once again goes first through surfing the wave of cultural change that is the key.

On a personal level, the parallel can be evident for example in the use of social networks or video conference platforms that now are basic to maintain contact with family and friends. Digitization and technology are tools to multiply our social or professional reach, but the goal is really to reach others, it is not to digitize itself only. Having an Instagram account is not the end but the means to relate to your (new) friends or clients. Capisci?

Then comes organizational transformation. With the what and why already covered, this one should be the simplest. The definition of decision making processes, delegation, organizational design and processes, as well as role creation (sometimes reduction) are carried out with the alignment of strategy and culture as north. The organizational transformation gives muscle to the ideas and to the heart.

On the other hand, when we are in a process of personal transformation, the equivalent is preparing ourselves and exercising ourselves with actions to carry out our vision of life. From exercising, spending more and / or better time with the family, learning a skill, language, praying, meditating, showing tolerance, acting with emotional intelligence, requires a lot of effort and discipline but with the clear idea of who I want to be and the conviction of why, the effort becomes much more tolerable. Until the goal is reached.

Perhaps then, we will seek other goals because in personal life as in business, change is always permanent but recognizing that the true self of who we want to be should be one.

To summarize, this exceptional situation offers us the unbeatable opportunity to assess whether it is time to transform ourselves. In the same way that companies are reinventing themselves or transforming in the context of the pandemic’s uncertainty, we, as human beings should take advantage of these times to reassess whether we have the right priorities in a world that seeks more true solidarity with others and that truly appreciates the authenticity of being rather than having or appearing. To be considered.