One year ago, we published Transforming While Performing: How To Create A Culture Of Innovation With Partners. Little did I realize that one year after its arrival, the book would be even more relevant than it was 12 months ago.
Our intent with the book was to help establish a foundation and roadmap for modernizing businesses with digital tools and techniques. I felt then, and still do, that there’s too much complexity and confusion surrounding these endeavors. And unfortunately, that confusion often leads to a high failure rate when it comes time for companies to measure the success of their digital efforts and investments.
But when the COVID-19 global pandemic hit, failure was no longer an option. Businesses had no choice but to adapt to stay-at-home orders, distributed teams and remote work environments. We’d been hearing for years that one day all companies would be technology companies, but I never imagined it would happen to every company at exactly the same time.
Still, as we face the prospect of an elongated return to a semblance of business-as-usual, organizations would do well to embrace the key components we’ve defined for succeeding with a digital-first strategy: the ability to move quickly and execute with agility, and forging a collaborative work culture that also extends to meaningful partnerships.
Here’s how we’ve seen these elements work to businesses’ advantage, eight months after the first shutdowns began:
Finally, You Can Teach Agility and Speed
There’s been a clear acceleration in software product engineering initiatives, which always involve some degree of disruptive change for established industries. The pandemic forced companies to escalate their strategic plans and execute their digital roadmaps in weeks or days vs. years. According to a survey from cloud communications platform Twilio, COVID-19 accelerated companies’ digital communications strategies by a global average of six years.
At Cognizant Softvision, we’ve witnessed a surge of programs in the healthcare and life sciences industries. For example, there has been an increasing need for machine-learning powered products that can assist with clinical trials as well as patient engagement. We are also seeing businesses reimagine their processes in the retail and consumer goods industries. This is happening in factories for better efficiencies, the adoption of AI technologies for predictive maintenance and smart, safer buildings, and automated logistics. Speed must be a part of every company’s DNA moving forward.
Culture Devours Strategy
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to test the strength of your corporate culture and learn more about what your employees value most. There’s a symbiotic relationship between how much employees embrace your corporate culture and your agility as an organization.
Our work communities have become less siloed and instead, have fostered collaborative environments for talent and team development. This has created a stronger sense of belonging among community members and leaders alike. In turn, we’ve helped clients evolve their cultures by partnering with them to ensure they not only have the right tools and platforms but also a successful remote work environment.
Extending the Work Culture Out of the Office
Since the pandemic forced us all to work remotely, we’ve taken an array of approaches to ensure our in-office culture extends to employees’ remote offices. We’ve invited employees to contribute and consume content related to new activities and groups. Using platforms like Zoom and Facebook Workplace, our Pods and teams have remained closely aligned and in sync, mirroring the in-person experience.
We’ve also created virtual “water cooler” engagements that encouraged employees to share their lives with each other. Our Wash Your Hands challenge was a fun, easy and quick way for employees to upload video and images of themselves and their families staying safe during the pandemic, and our Motivational T-Shirt challenge encouraged associates to share inspiring messages with each other. Other events asked employees to show off their pets, cooking skills and singing talent.
Our communities, thought leadership, creative and studio experience teams have worked hard to not just maintain our culture, but also, in some respects, make it even stronger.
We’re all still learning a great deal from this pandemic – about each other, our organizations, our governments and our values. And I believe today, even more so than 12 months ago, that by encouraging collaboration, dissolving work team silos and enabling agility, businesses will find a new way to thrive in the new normal.
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