From a business perspective, the first few weeks of COVID 19 have focused on how to survive the cash-flow stress generated by a situation whereby one side of the balance –income- has disappeared, while the other side -bills- stays firmly in place. Let’s assume –and this is a lot to be assumed– that we have overcome this first challenge.
Let’s now assume that we are entering the second phase, that we are taking for granted our leaders’ capacity to generate vision to face the next phenomenon of the moment, The New Normal. Needless to say that this exercise should be proactive across departments and that it will be essential to have our teams on board, aligned as never before and in touch with our clients and the target market.
On a higher level it is particularly interesting to consider the time for thought that top consulting firms like McKinsey or Deloitte can offer us on this topic. But to those who don’t come up with insightful guidelines in uncertain moments, we suggest going back to some theories which might be of help such as scenario analysis and especially in a new normal situation. This theory, the Job-to-be-done is attributed to several authors of the academic and business practice like Christensen, Moesta and Ulwick.
The Job-to-be-done formula aims to expose the true “why” behind the success in the market of a product/service; short, it focuses on the future. It is a tool to assess the motivations and circumstances in customer behaviour, customers who do neither make purchasing decisions based on their demographic circumstances nor based on what the average consumer in their category might do, but rather on solving a problem they have to hand.
A “job” is the solution to an essential problem that a customer wants to implement in a specific circumstance.
A couple of examples that seem relevant today could be “meeting with the team to prepare the business scenario” or “keeping fit with a daily one-hour exercise“. These jobs were not created in this time of isolation as they have nearly always existed. A new global normality – in Spain for 25 days now- forces us to “hire” virtual tools so that both meetings and sports activities can continue to be implemented remotely. The Task has not changed; the Deliverable is.
Although it may seem complex in today’s context, the fundamental work for which your companies exist perhaps requires a turn of 180º in the deliverable. To imagine that people are neither going to travel nor being back to their offices or gyms anymore and countless other examples, it does not demand scenarios. The scenarios are useful if – and only if – we think there is a tomorrow.
At this point, and before continuing and returning to theory, it would be advisable to ask ourselves this simple, powerful question: What will our clients want to achieve when they hire us (in a new post-COVID-19 scenario)? The answer, more from a writer than a mathematician, should give us the clue, not only on a functional level but also emotionally and socially. And, here again, it will be more likely that the “task” for which we are hired may have not changed. Once this task has been identified, what may have changed is its integration into the delivery experience, as phase two of this theory indicates.
To continue with a complex example, we will risk by assuming that people will continue to travel. Obviously, it will take a long time before previous levels return, but people will travel again. The key is to visualize how those trips will be like in the new normality. Surely in the corporate environment of the industry someone has already come up with new ways to differentiate those airlines that stand out for having the best standards of hygiene and sanitation (Safe Advisor?) instead of emphasizing punctuality. Or which companies offer free cancellation policies (Cancel Advisor?), which was once one of the keys to success for the sector incumbent –Booking- and will now help it increase even more.
Many of you will be reading this through LinkedIn, a company that instead of thinking that no one is going to hire anybody ever again, it has chosen to think that it is just now when services -like their “Premium” option- are precisely more relevant than ever before. It is true that in the delivery process they had to be flexible, and generous, offering free access alternatives to this service for those who have lost their jobs and who need them more than ever.
Solidarity initiatives of thousands of companies that are now transferring their production to health facilities to overcome this terrible pandemic -as masks or assisted breathing machines to name but just two examples- are now necessary. But tomorrow, once all this is over, these will not be the lines of business that will sustain their position in the market: And, therefore, someone in the organization should be thinking today about that tomorrow. This attitude of solidarity will help them to be more humane, flexible and open to a change that – more than ever before – shall require an innovative mindset to respond to their industry’s new normal. Because we must remember that disruption is not generated by external start-ups but by the morph in customers’ behaviour. And many of these changes may have been accelerated.
Welcome to the exercise of the new normal!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jordi Díaz received his bachelor’s degree in Management from the University of Wales and holds a Master in Human Resources Management from EADA and a degree of the Authentic Leadership Development & Disruptive Strategy Programme from Harvard Business School. He is a doctoral candidate in Business Administration at the Ecole des Ponts Paris Tech specialised in Disruptive Innovation.
Currently, Mr Díaz is Associate Dean for Programmes & International Relations and member of the Executive Committee at EADA. He has also served on the Board of Trustees at the Executive MBA Council and EPAS – European programme accreditation. Since 2017, he has been Director of the Executive Academy of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD Global Network, Switzerland).