Time to throw out the old rulebook: and build our business resilience

By Dan Joyce, general manager EMEA, SafetyCulture

As 2021 looms on the horizon, many of us are finally taking stock of one of the most challenging years to date and trying to figure out what comes next. SafetyCulture’s Dan Joyce explores how business can come back better than before in 2021.

How many of us were prepared for the rapid pace of change when the global pandemic hit?

The truth is, probably very few. Even those with the most stringent crisis management plans probably found themselves blindsighted to a degree – or simply forced to push through new processes and change at significant pace.

It’s been a struggle for survival for many. Mass lockdowns closed store doors, the hospitality industry was ‘brought to its knees’, and near-daily changes in guidance have left many sectors battling to keep up (and stay compliant.)

However, we’ve also seen some inspiring stories of innovation and resilience over the past 6+ months. There are restaurants who’ve changed their business model to service more takeout customers; pubs and pop-up food vendors teaming up to safely stay open in-line with government guidance. Virtual gym classes and home coffee delivery services. One thing is certain: we are masters of adaptation.

As we steel ourselves for the second wave, it’s time to learn from those who’ve weathered crises before us. Here’s how we build business resilience: and arm ourselves for success.

#1. Polish and perfect your processes

Many of us pushed through operational changes at rapid pace in lockdown. We didn’t have time for perfection: we just needed temporarily functional, workable, acceptable.

Our circumstances aren’t set to change anytime soon, so now it’s time to build on those basics – and make them better.

As we continue working to keep staff and customers safe, how can we remove unnecessary human contact points, improve our healthy and safety compliance, or get better visibility of what’s happening in our stores and sites?

With economic pressure mounting, are we really working as efficiently as we can? How can we work smarter, reduce our overheads and optimise our operations? Let’s reflect on those perhaps hastily-made changes, and refine, polish, perfect.

#2. Remove barriers to change

The most successful businesses in the initial COVID-19 outbreak mobilised quickly to make rapid change in response to every-evolving circumstances. Adaptation is absolutely central to business resilience: and there’s undoubtedly further change to come.

Look to your organisation, both culturally and operationally. Is there unnecessary red tape or bureaucracy that holds up change? Do you have visibility of what’s happening on the ground, or that all-important data to help you identify issues, trends or needs and respond quickly?

Identifying your blockers and arming yourself with insight will set you ahead of the pack.

#3. Throw out the old rule book

It’s clear that we’re not simply going to ‘return to normal.’ But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One of the surprising opportunities thrown up by COVID-19 has been the chance to challenge the status quo and innovate: fast.

Businesses that embrace new or disruptive technologies, shake up their processes, show willingness to embrace new ways of thinking and are prepared to take a risk on something different: they’ll emerge the winners. It’s time for us to step into the unknown.

#4. Learn from others – outside your comfort zone

We tend to look to those ‘like us’ for inspiration. Others in our industry sector or professional field; those who have walked this road before us.

Actually, the best ideas can come from the most unexpected of places. And for one of the very few times in history, everyone has been impacted – one way or another – by the global crisis. What could we learn if we went looked a little further afield?

Humankind has demonstrated its ability to thrive in the face of adversity throughout history. By listening to those who have handled the extremes or the extraordinary, we can learn how to drive success in a post-pandemic world.

To that end, we’ve decided to pull together a group of individuals who embody the spirit of innovation. SafetyCulture is hosting a free Virtual Summit event on 18th November for leaders and innovators in operations, safety, risk, and quality.

SafetyCulture Summit 2020: From Surviving to Thriving will feature keynote speakers including:

  • Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, pilot behind the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’
  • Erin Brockovich, renowned consumer advocate & environmental activist
  • Captain Scott Kelly, history-making NASA astronaut
  • John McAvoy, ex-armed robber turned Ironman athlete
  • Craig Tiley, Tournament Director of the Australian Open and CEO of Tennis Australia

Between them, our speakers have faced emergency landings, prison, outer space and more. They’ll explore the themes including fast adaptation, innovation – and how businesses can make pivotal shifts to thrive going forward.

If we’re truly to come back better in 2021, we can’t afford to wait for the crisis to pass. Now is the time to step out of survival mode – and actively drive change.