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Corona Cultural Instructions regarding Business

September 23rd, 2020
Accelerator Party

Corona Cultural Instructions regarding Business

September 23rd, 2020
Accelerator Party

During COVID-19 communicating across countries and cultures are getting more and more important. The industrialized nations of the world are experiencing unprecedented change. In much of Europe, for example, it is possible for EU citizens to travel from country to country without a passport, conducting transactions in a common currency. Barriers to trade have tumbled or vanished in recent years, but through it all, each of us has retained something essential to our identity as humans: our culture.

Definition of culture in business

Culture is everything that people have, think, and do as members of their society. Culture affects and is a central part of our economy and the organizations that employ us. It is composed of material objects, ideas, values, and attitudes, as well as expected patterns of behavior. Whatever your business, you’re likely to encounter people of different ethnicity, citizenship, and cultural origin. Dealing with people of different cultures, conducting business over international borders, traveling safely, and communicating effectively is not always easy, but are essential for success in today’s business world.

Cultural adaptability in the corona days

Research has shown that even when you create a culture that is strategically aligned and strong (that is, widely shared and intensely valued), it won’t help you over the long run unless you also develop a culture that is adaptive in real-time. In fact, a study that conducted found that organizations that were strategically aligned, strong, and had built in the capacity to adapt quickly to dynamic environments earned 15% more in annual revenue compared to those in the same industry that were less adaptable. Cultural adaptability — which reflects your organization’s ability to innovate, experiment, and quickly take advantage of new opportunities — is especially important at this historic moment. Leaders must continue to cultivate their company’s culture to help people stay focused on the most important initiatives even as they contend with the unprecedented challenges and continuously changing conditions presented by the pandemic.

Consider these tips for building a strong organizational culture during a pandemic.

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Communications

 Employees will likely be exposed to conflicting information and feel anxious or confused about the best course of action. Be sure to communicate policies promptly, clearly, and in a balanced manner. Furthermore, communicate contextual information and the reasoning behind policies so that employees can deepen their own understanding and also take initiative in unanticipated situations, such as employee holidays in a restricted location or how to handle contractors.

Employee needs

Restrictions on travel and congregation will trigger employee needs for access to education, health care, daily provisions, and the like. You should anticipate and develop solutions to these and create an information hub where employees can find all the information they need especially in corona days. Many of these needs will be locally specific, requiring a multi-tiered approach to policymaking.

Travel

Make sure that travel policies are clear in terms of where employees can travel to, for what reasons, what authorizations are required, and when the policy will be reviewed.

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Remote work

Be clear on your policies — where they apply, how they will work, and when they will be reviewed. Homeworking is rare in some geographies, like China for example, and the need for additional explanation should be anticipated.

Supply-chain stabilization

Attempt to stabilize supply chains by using safety stocks, alternative sources, and working with suppliers to solve bottlenecks. Where rapid solutions are not possible, co-develop plans, put in place interim solutions, and communicate plans to all relevant stakeholders.

Business tracking and forecasting

It’s likely that the crisis will create unpredictable fluctuations. Put in place rapid-reporting cycles so that you can understand how your business is being affected, where mitigation is required, and how quickly operations are recovering. A crisis doesn’t imply immunity from performance management, and sooner or later markets will judge which companies managed the challenge most effectively.

Being part of the broader solution

As a corporate citizen, you should support others in your supply chain, industry, community, and local government. Consider how your business can contribute, be it in health care, communications, food, or some other domain. Focus on the intersection between acute social needs and your specific capabilities — in other words, live your purpose.

Use resilience principles in developing cultural policies in corona pandemic

the key goal in managing dynamic and unpredictable challenges is resilience – the ability to survive and thrive through unpredictable, changing, and potentially unfavorable events.

Redundancy

 Access to additional manufacturing capacity can help smooth supply-chain fluctuations. In the short term, companies may need to look beyond normal sources for solutions, but in the longer term, redundancy can be designed in.

Diversity

Having multiple approaches to fulfillment can be less efficient but more flexible and resilient in crisis situations. Equally a diversity of ideas can greatly enhance solution development. Put together a cognitively diverse crisis management team that will have more ideas about potential solutions, especially if the corporate culture encourages the expression of and respect for diverse perspectives. Beware of treating the crisis in a one-dimensional manner — as a financial or logistical problem only, and staff your crisis team accordingly.

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Modularity

Highly integrated systems may be efficient, but they are vulnerable to avalanches of knock-on effects or even total system collapse if disturbed. In contrast, a modular system — where factories, organizational units, or supply sources can be combined in different ways — offers greater resiliency. When a key brake valve supplier for Toyota has burned to the ground some years ago, supply was restored in just days because of the ability to swap production between suppliers, even of very different components. Ask how you can rewire your supply system in a modular manner both in the short and longer-term.

Evolvability

Systems can be built for optimization and peak efficiency or they can be built for evolvability — constant improvement in the light of new opportunities, problems, or information. Responses to dynamic crises like Covid-19 put a premium on evolvability. There is no knowable right answer, and any predetermined answer is likely to be wrong or to become obsolete over time. But it is possible to iterate and learn towards more effective solutions. While many lessons will be learned in retrospect, doing something new, seeing what works, and remobilizing around the results is likely to be the most effective strategy in the short term.

Prudence

We cannot predict the course of events or their impacts for Covid-19, but we can envision plausible downside scenarios and test resilience under these circumstances. We can run scenarios for a widespread global epidemic, a multi-regional epidemic, and a rapidly contained epidemic, for example. Now that the focus has shifted from containment of the Covid-19 epidemic in China to prevent its establishment in new epicenters overseas, we have arrived at another inflection point, with very high uncertainty. It would be prudent for companies to take a fresh look at worst-case scenarios and develop contingency strategies against each.

Embeddedness

Companies are stakeholders in wider industrial, economic, and social systems which are also under great stress. Those who fail to look at their supply chains or ecosystems holistically will have limited impact. Solutions that solve for an individual company at the expense of or neglecting the interests of others will create mistrust and damage the business in the longer term. Conversely, support to customers, partners, health care, and social systems in a time of adversity can potentially create lasting goodwill and trust. A key element of dealing with economic stress is to live one’s values precisely when we are most likely to forget them.

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