In times of crisis, we fall prey to the uncertainty surrounding us and we develop a rigid mindset. Often, such rigidity proves detrimental to enterprise and small business owners alike.
Sadly, we found ourselves in this exact situation in March 2020; a far cry from the agile mindset that our business required of us.
It is normal for any decision-maker to feel agitated when faced with volatile market conditions. However, they do need to consider that being proactive, rather than reactive, can help a business manage challenges better.
As the CEO of Kylas, I have worked towards keeping my business agile and resilient even in times of crisis.
Here are my thoughts on what we did right.
What Is a Crisis and How Did It Impact Our Business?
A crisis is never a single or simple event. It is a multitude of events, with a domino effect, that can prevent us from seeing things in the right perspective. The pandemic started a similar chain reaction and continues to play a leading role in how we do business across the world.
If left unchecked, business challenges can snowball into issues that have no simple solution. Like most growing businesses around the world, our organization was challenged by the pandemic as well-
- Our incomes had diminished.
- In-person team interactions had stopped; affecting timelines & deliverables
- Performance numbers were sliding.
- IT and communication errors increased.
- Everyone had to put in extra effort to deliver results
- All people, processes & interactions had to move to a fully virtual space.
OEMs and other businesses faced a few additional and unique challenges such as-
- Breaks in the supply chain
- Breaks in the distribution chain
- Regulatory roadblocks due to the pandemic
- Added costs like safety regulations and IT hardware investments
In the current scenario, building business resilience with an agile mindset is key to overcoming these challenges. Businesses need to adapt, and quickly, so that they can bounce back and perform as earlier.
Defining ‘Business Resilience’
Business resilience can mean different things, all dependent on a person’s background.
In Ecology, we can define resilience as ‘the ability of a system to continue functioning amid and recover from a disturbance.’
In Psychology, resilience is defined as ‘the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress.
In Physics, it is ‘the ability of metals to absorb energy and return to their normal state after the energy was unloaded.’
For a business, we can define business resilience as ‘the ability to bounce back from an adverse situation. You take your lessons from the situation and move on to achieve your goals.’
For ex.: The most common sales model was heavily dependent on face-to-face interactions. With the pandemic and rising safety concerns, in-person selling has become redundant.
What does a business do in this case? What are the options? Will remote-selling work? What do they need in terms of technology and business expertise for remote selling?
In other words, businesses must deal with crises by adapting seamlessly to current market situations and grow in the process.
The Road to Business Resilience and Actionable Approaches
These words don’t mean much without actionable approaches or guidelines that can help organizations get out of the rut. We can surmise that only a select few may come out shining on the other side.
Experts suggest that the numbers may go as low as 1 out of 10.
As the proud owner of a growing business, I wanted Kylas to be a part of the 10%.
So, here’s what we did:
First, we categorized the challenges so we could stay on a clear path to business resilience.
- Business Performance & Finance
- Employee Productivity
- Process Agility
- Rework Business Process Continuity
- Enabling an Agile Mindset
Categorizing the challenges helped us prioritize our goals and the respective functions tackled each goal effectively.
For ex.: After a thorough discussion with the leadership team and gathering inputs, we figured that the ‘people’ & ‘communication’ related challenges would be championed by the HR team. More on that later.
We then divided each category into sub-categories, identified action points, the department(s) in charge of taking the action, and practical strategies that could work best for the business.
We further divided focus into smaller parts and each focus was furnished with strategies for problem-solving. This was what our business resilience plan looked like.
1. Business Performance & Finance
2. Employee Productivity
3. Process Agility
4. Create a New Business Continuity (or Contingency) Plan
Business Continuity Planning or BCP is a well-founded strategy that is implemented when the business finds itself in a crisis.
For those who have never created one for their business before or those who want to create a new one, BCPs can help best protect your people, customers, and enable business continuity.
5. Enabling an Agile Mindset
The fifth category is the most important in the list because it is fundamental to institutionalizing business resilience as a part of the culture.
By enabling an agile mindset across the business, the entire organization knows what the primary goals are and how to work collaboratively to reach there.
But what is an ‘agile mindset’ and why is it important?
“The Agile mindset reflects ways of thinking that have developed over time. It is a certain cast of mind that emphasizes some things over others. It should continue to grow and evolve. It reflects attitudes and viewpoints that tend to endure. Over time, it leads to people being seen as having a certain makeup or character. Once we have understood the Agile mindset, we can anticipate types of behavior that should occur.”
Steve Denning, on the nature of the agile mindset
“Thriving in today’s marketplace frequently depends on making a transformation to become more agile. Those successful in the transition enjoy faster delivery speed and ROI, higher satisfaction, continuous improvement, and additional benefits.”
Scott Graffius, on the importance of the agile mindset for businesses
Human Resources to the Rescue
Now we come to addressing the ‘people’-related challenges.
Here’s what Neha Kaul, Manager of Human Resources at Kylas, has to say.
“2020 will always be remembered as a year where HR professionals struggled with keeping everything in order. For all of us in HR, our biggest challenge was to maintain a sense of normalcy and order amid all this chaos.”
Boosting Business Resilience
When crises hit businesses, the entire organization needs to align to a common purpose, to shift focus from purely results to optimizing processes, and to take concrete steps that are viable in the long term.
An agile growth mindset can help boost business resilience by accelerating practical and structural steps to be taken across the organization.
However, organization-wide changes need technology support to help identify challenges, analyze data, track implementation, and the impact of the approaches, all the while preparing yourself with new Business Continuity Plans.
Technology tools such as ERP, Communication Platforms, Task Management software, and Sales CRM for Small Businesses can help you and your business stay creative and innovative to unlock new ways of thinking and working.
For more information on Kylas, reach out to us, or share your thoughts below.