A Pandemic Shows How Organizations Can Change Faster Than They Think

By Andrea Belk Olson, MSC and CEO of Pragmadik

The coronavirus has transformed our world virtually overnight. Companies have had to change on a dime how they operate and communicate. While this is an incredibly serious situation, it’s an opportunity for businesses to re-evaluate their approach to managing change going forward.

So-called “traditional” organizations, where silos, structure, and hierarchy abound, where resistance to change is prevalent, are in for an even rougher road. Once we pass through the pandemic, there will be a major turning point. How do we become more agile, forward-thinking and proactive? How do we sustain an ability to adapt quickly and efficiently to unforeseen circumstances? We might believe this requires the ability to predict future challenges better, or improve the organization’s ability to work remotely, or even shore up supply chains. However, the real issue is the mentality of leadership.

Having worked with an extensive amount of organizations on change, leadership is inherently slow to embrace it. This isn’t odd, as it’s human nature to resist change. But when push comes to shove – when there’s a catastrophe, when urgency is at its height, when leaders have no choice in the matter – they act. While hindsight is 20/20, organizations have multiple opportunities to make simple to significant changes which can put them in a better position to weather a storm. Yet, many leaders push back, stating the change would be too disruptive, cost too much, or take too much work to implement. But now, there’s no choice in the matter.

We can do better. We can use our corporate courage to embrace change before it is foisted upon us. We can be more open to new ideas and forward-thinking behaviors. We can foster inclusiveness, cross-train employees and empower them to make better decisions faster. We can create a resilient culture that thinks on their feet and is always looking for a smarter way to do things.

I would challenge all organizational leaders to examine their organizational culture and think about how they will transform their companies out of this pandemic to be more adaptive, rather than embracing the status quo. Because as we know, change will come one way or another – and it’s much easier to handle if you’re primed for it.

About the Author

Andrea Olson is a strategist, speaker, author, and customer-centricity expert. As the CEO at Pragmadik, she helps organizations of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune 500, and has served as an outside consultant for EY and McKinsey. Andrea is the author of The Customer Mission: Why it’s time to cut the $*&% and get back to the business of understanding customers and No Disruptions: The future for mid-market manufacturing.

She is a 4-time ADDY® award winner and host of the popular Customer Mission podcast. Her thoughts have been featured in news sources such as Chief Executive MagazineCustomer Experience MagazineIndustry Week, and more. Andrea is a sought-after keynote speaker at conferences and corporate events throughout the world. She is a visiting lecturer at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business, a TEDx presenter and TEDx speaker coach. She is also a mentor at the University of Iowa Venture School.

More information is also available on www.pragmadik.com and www.thecustomermission.com.

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