Certain situations require a high degree of spontaneity. We look up to those leaders who can manage their organizations through crisis and thread difficult situations using quick analysis and problem-solving skills. Technology can also make a difference; effective data sharing between law enforcement and mental health units will improve the outcomes of co-responder programs.
When you’re facing a crisis, there’s often little time to prepare or react. This rewards individual skill and ability. And it’s undoubtedly essential to have those skills as a leader or have tools and systems prepared for emergencies. But not every challenge we encounter is an impending crisis.
The global pandemic, for instance, has left leaders scrambling for the right response. Nobody could have foreseen the specifics of the outbreak. But many experts had previously pointed out issues in global supply infrastructure, organizational bloat, and lack of contingencies. The warning signs were evident; it didn’t have to be a coronavirus that would shake up the world. But not everyone was listening.
Similarly, in any story of business failure, you’re likely to find multiple instances where the insights to prevent failure were available well before the fact. But the people who could have made a difference either didn’t receive the message or didn’t see fit to act upon it. Feedback can have an invisible role in any company’s success, but it’s often more critical than the high-profile interventions we witness in moments of crisis.
Challenges to actionable change
Many business leaders do recognize the value of feedback. But for various reasons, their organizations might fail to apply that feedback effectively. Ultimately, feedback must be translated into improvements. Thus, when this process fails, any problems will typically fall into one of two categories: capture or transmission.
Capturing consumer feedback can be a complicated challenge. You want to strike the right balance in many aspects. Your team will need to be very specific in their goals to ask the right questions. They also need to use the appropriate channel to connect with the target consumer profile. Not everyone will respond to email surveys; some insights can only be gained from interviews or dialogues on social media.
Even if you’ve managed to capture feedback effectively, it must lead to actionable change. This is where internal issues come into play. Management might resist change, primarily if their current priorities lie elsewhere. Different departments have to consider their performance metrics. It becomes a challenge not only of data collection and analysis but of presentation and communication.
You want to convince decision-makers that change is needed. And you’ll need to get individual buy-in for change to happen. Then, of course, innovation comes into play; finding the right solution might require some experimentation. Many steps need to be taken before the feedback is used effectively.
A path to future survival
Companies have been encountering these problems for decades. Over the years, different approaches have been proposed to help bypass these issues. Two of these stand out as potential solutions for the future, provided that your organization is prepared to embrace the change.
The “Agile” approach to development calls for companies to work more closely with consumers. Using rapid, frequent iterations of development, you can use this methodology to build a better relationship with your consumers and enhance their experience with timely, relevant updates. On top of that, the “Lean” method enables you to apply continuous testing loops throughout the business, continually checking that you’re heading in the right direction.
The concepts behind agile and lean methods aren’t new; they’ve even been used together over the years. However, many companies have hesitated to apply them in the past. They place a high demand on the capabilities of workers and have been associated with layoffs or budget cuts.
Nonetheless, in the current era of the pandemic, signs are pointing towards lean and agile principles as the path to survival in the new normal. Consumer behaviors are known to shift in a recession. In a crisis, people seek out a human connection. As your people receive feedback from consumers, empowering them to devise and implement their solutions can be the only way to stay on top of change.
Take heed of the signs, and you can avoid being in constant crisis mode where every decision could make or break your company. Encourage teams to collaborate and become active partners with consumers and other stakeholders. This way, your organization can achieve the fluid transmission of feedback and carry out the necessary changes along the way.