Saturday, 25 July 2020

User error or omission?

All these remote users working from home during the Covid crisis are putting a strain on company IT services and help desks as the workers try to cope with remote access to corporate systems with their home PCs.  A few companies saw lockdown coming and initiated a programme of specific training and equipment review.

Too few companies. however, had this scenario within their  crisis and continuity planning framework.

As ever, organisations are let down by their omissions, rather than their errors.

It's what we don't think of rather than what we do that dictates how well we face emergencies.

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Agriculture as the seed?

In many developing countries, and especially in Africa, nations needs to pay attention to their agricultural productivity.  Rising populations mean that more food must be grown - and yet land is disappearing for bigger towns and citIES, mines, forestry and so on - meaning the percentage of land devoted to agriculture is reducing.

If a government,. perhaps with help from its national productivity organisation, aid agencies, a university or the private sector, can show how targeted action can improve agricultural productivity…. they can demonstrate success and make the case for more targeted productivity initiatives in other sectors.

Nothing succeeds more than demonstrating success.  Quick wins are essential in any longer-term change project. So, choose a sector (agriculture?), initiate a productivity campaign, demonstrate success (by measurement before and after) and watch others climb on board. 

Within an organisation, too, simply replace sectors with processes - and the same model applies.  Show you can do it with one process  - and people want to share the success, extend the success and repeat the success.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Scary experiments

We have heard lockdowns and other measures used to try and contain/control the Coronavirus pandemic referred to as ‘social experiments’.  We do not yet know the longer-term results of these experiments on the physical and mental well-being of the experimental subjects (us!).

Similarly, governments have tried a variety of macroeconomic experiments to try and preserve national economies. Again, we do not know the longer-term consequences of such experiments.  Undoubtedly some will prove to have been more effective than others.

Of course, these two sets of experiments interact.  The well-being of the population is affected by the state of the economy - especially in terms of the confidence with which people face the future, face new challenges and face entrepreneurial  decisions.

So, whatever governments think they are doing with their strategies for coming out of lockdown and revitalising their economies, the future is very much unknown.  All experiments are prone to failure.  Here in the UK, obviously I hope the UK government has taken wise decisions (decisions that look wise with hindsight in a year’s time preferably).  But I am not  holding my breath or investing all-in in a recovery.

Some governments’ experiments and solutions will pay off; others will not.  As I have indicated before, you have to choose your own routes to long-term success, hoping the government has provided an infrastructure and ecosystem that gives you potential.

Good luck!  

The only thing worse than doing the ‘wrong’ thing (something which turns out to be wrong sometime in the future) is to do nothing (and hope things improve). Almost always in these kinds of crises, action beats inaction.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

How do se improve cooperation as we move to the new normal?

Many firms have realised during the pandemic, and the lockdown that went with it, that city centre real estate may be a very expensive means of providing facilities for staff. 

The general consensus is that workers have been quite productive whilst working from home, so minute by minute supervision is unnecessary 

However there are factors that make remote working less effective.  There is, perhaps naturally, a lack of informal cooperation that ’oils the wheels’ of effectiveness. Formal cooperation and communication can take advantage of Zoom, Teams ands other platforms …. but the informal component tends to be missed.  Yet, the informal component of cooperation and communications is what people value - its why they like going to work. It is also how they get simple (but effective) peer support and training.  It is also what helps innovation via the cross-pollenisation of thoughts and ideas.

So, as you start to move towards whatever the new normal will be, you should think about whether, and how, you should bring people together to improve communication and cooperation.

How do you engage workers on a daily and continuing basis? How do you get your company values and culture to permeate across physical barriers?

You might not get all the answers right … but you will get many of them wrong if you don’t even think about it.  

Of course, with luck you can get back to where you were before the pandemic.  But wouldn’t you be better in a more advantageous position, with  more engaged, more cooperative,  more creative workers.