Sustaining productivity for the next 5 years

Session review June 2021

Introduced and hosted by Andrew Stoneham Knott, Managing Partner of Miramar Global and chaired by Andy Salmon CMG OBE. 

The session focussed on 5 key areas for discussion, ideas sharing and review 

The new environment – what to expect 

The old normal is gone and is not coming back so it is critical to build an understanding of the new environment. Approaching this uncertain period, while you must first understand what you need to do to survive, you must then understand where you need to innovate in order to thrive. If you don’t innovate, you are at risk of decline. 

We need to build resiliency in our supply chains and this means more regionalisation and localisation, at least in the short term. The 20 year focus on global productivity has come to an end. Geopolitics, regulatory drivers and trade wars are all likely major influencers in the coming years on what has significant impact on supply chains. The feeling group wise was that less is more. This is the time to re-focus on core offerings and how that can play into coopetition. 

The group predicated that while funding may be inhibited, this time can also be a catalyst for transformation with digital and sustainability at the core of that which can lead to really positive developments for business globally. As we progress through this period of change, collaboration is key – look out for coopetition and corporate venturing to enable corporates to learn fast and accelerate growth and innovation. We see sustainability playing a key part in consumer behaviour alongside a focus on hygiene, health and nutrition. More time at home will influence consumer behaviour, the products and services we buy and where we choose to spend our money. 

Leadership & unpredictability 

The lack of information has at times created a lack of decisiveness making it more challenging for leaders. The need to set direction, define success and bring a positive outlook is an essential tool during uncertain times. 

The session reflected on how to approach leadership; to zoom out and understand where you are. By understanding the now, the next and the far you can create predictability out of uncertainty by being clear about the simple things. To manage this unpredictability, leaders must also enable their business to create options and not be tied to one path should the goalposts change.  

Coopetition requires leadership to create the right environment and success conditions by defining the vision. This is a fundamental change in outlook and business culture for many businesses and requires focus on cultural norms and new behaviours. 

Trust was a large part of the session conversation, playing into co-opetition. Buiness needs a fundamental mindset shift on how work with your competitors, instead of doing business against them. Leaders will need to shift their cultural perspective quickly and communicate the change to influence their teams, particularly mid management, on how to treat competitors in this environment. 

COVID-19 is a catalyst for cultural & organisational transformation 

The work environment has changed radically and we have witnessed a transformation that would normally take 5 years +, happen over three months. We have to build our cultures in an environment with less physical interaction and where remote working plays a much larger part. Transparency, visibility and feedback loops are essential to enable this. Our session shared ideas and experience on how to change company culture, as culture can be a bigger influencer on behaviours than strategy.

Recognise your teams as individuals. Leading Minds shows us goodness flows amongst people so make use of this and encourage and tap into it. 

For some companies, there is a need to address the 80:20 phenomenon: 80% of staff have seen a drop in workload or efficiency, whilst 20% have seen a significant increase in demands and also in their productivity. Is the increased contribution of the 20% covering up the weaker contribution provided by the remaining 80% and how do we each find a conclusion to that question. Companies need to work out how to get the 80% highly productive again. 

We talked about how to continue to develop our environments to enable a culture where creativity and risk appetite is enabled to fuel innovation. An environment must deliver on certain elements for people to be able to thrive when business and home environments are unsettled.  

We talked through identifying how and where to move our resources to capture where the value is and how we educate and integrate new joiners will form a critical part of this process. Reintegrating those who have been furloughed will play a huge part also and will test the culture as we push to regain productivity in a completely new environment. 

Companies need to become frugal in their approach, re-align all discretional spending and make sure that every budget is spent on contributing to the strategy of the organisation. 

Digital, innovation & sustainability 

We will expect to see less commuting as office infrastructure is transformed and likely a shift to hot desk and virtual office environments becoming a more normal and acceptable approach.

 It would not be a surprise to see a 30 – 50% average reduction in traditional office space in the view of the Leading Minds attendees. 

We expect to see significantly less business travel, whether it be a cost based decision or simply because through the normalisation process of the last three months, people felt that video calls can comfortably substitute, save travel time and increase efficiency all round. 

All of the above can clearly contribute to enabling a more sustainable environment. At the same time, we expect to see a continued drive towards sustainable sources through consumer demand. The momentum is now with the sustainability agenda and is here to stay. It is no longer a nice to have, but a must have. 

Is the environment ripe for an increase in coopetition 

“Collaboration between business competitors, in the hope of mutually beneficial results”

This is a phenomena that has been around for some time with its heritage in Game Theory, but is not present in all sectors or markets. In automotive for example it has been present for some time, perfectly represented through the sharing of platforms by competitors. 

With the need for innovation to enhance business models and reach coupled with, in many cases, at least short term funding restrictions, we discussed whether coopetition can present a solution and an opportunity.

This requires a shift in behaviour, outlook and therefore culture. It is not just a structural change but something which, to be successful, requires a significant pivot in outlook. 

This pivot requires leadership to set the vision, provide perspective and convince of the benefits. 

Our leaders talked through the requirement for commitment and the ability to maintain long term vision. These are typically not short-term experiments because of the nature of the change in relationship and interaction and, as mentioned before, the need for a significant change in culture to enable them. 

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