Intended take away: New thinking around risk and the importance and value of working ON the business.
There is an analogy that business owners seem to resonate with about how the pandemic has exposed risk in areas of the business that were not thought of before the pandemic. Let’s see if it resonates with you in what your business was like before and after the commencement of the 2020 pandemic. It’s the old adage that crisis makes change.
No matter what business you are in, it is like being a shoemaker. You are an excellent shoemaker. You attract great talent to help you in your shoe-making business. You love making shoes for your customers. Everyone or almost everyone in your shoe-making business also loves the fact they work for a company that makes shoes. Here’s the funny thing with your shoe business. You have no shoes. Everyone that works for you has no shoes. You rarely think about the fact you and your employees have no shoes. Whenever it does come across your mind, or someone points it out to you with bewilderment. “Maybe someday”, you say. “But not now”.
The shoe is a metaphor for the underlying systems that make shoemaking and selling possible. Providing shoes to customers includes how effective and efficient you and the business are in providing energy and focus on how the business operates as if it were a customer itself. Well. It needs to include it. Not including it left many a shoemaker around the world flat-footed scrambling for how to keep their business running during the shutdown without having to be in the office.
Small business owners surveyed spend just under 1/3 of their time on the business.
According to a survey conducted by The Alternative Board, the sample of small business owners surveyed spend just under 1/3 of their time on the business. With just under 3/4 of those surveyed knowing they would prefer to spend more time on the business, not in it.
“Digital Transformation” is not a new concept. The personal computer came onto the scene in business pretty strongly in the mid-1990s. Once computers could be connected together in a network of computers the progression of using computers in business accelerated. Thirty years of technology progression and evolution where the digital transformation of business had fits and starts.
What has happened over these years is good and bad. Technology has become a commodity. From a cost standpoint that is a good thing. The commoditization of technology has also led to technology being an assumptive afterthought. On one hand, technology can be complicated. Certain people understand it and get great joy in working with it. Others… not so much. The odds that you are a business owner that is also very proficient with technology while also not falling prey to the commoditization trap that keeps strategic thinking about how technology can give you a competitive advantage from happening, is quite low.
Crisis makes change
Like I said. Crisis makes change. A good amount of companies have passed the rubicon into a paradigm where technology is given strategic focus by being provided a seat at the leadership table for review, discussion, and decision making. For many others, technology strategy is an oxymoron. Outsourcing technology management and support are quite common. For those that believe technology strategy is an oxymoron, you had the hardest time and most work to do to identify what gaps you had, how you were going to close them, and actually getting timely help in getting them closed. Your digital transformation gap was the widest.
If technology strategy was something that had meaning to you prior to the pandemic of 2020. Meaning that was translated into meaningful investment and action with guidance from strategic partner level engagement from people you trust, helping you understand the risk and reward of shifting your operational state to a new one based on your business priorities. There is a high likelihood any gap to close to be able to function remotely was minimal at worst to non-existent at best.
How will you integrate what you learned from the pandemic to make your business better this year?
The question now for all business owners and leaders is how will you integrate what you learned from the pandemic to make your business better this year, and next year, and the year after that? Better in this context refers to operational effectiveness. In what way can you continue to make shoes you started making for yourself and your company going forward? Shoes wear out and need to be replaced. As one example in making your own shoes to wear: how will you engage with a technology strategy for your business engaging with people you trust to guide you in the process?
- Schedule time on an ongoing basis to stop, reflect and challenge yourself and your team to engage in evaluation, decision, action in a repeated fashion on an ongoing basis.
- Make this time non-negotiable. Resist the urge to replace this time with what you may think are more urgent matters
- Build and maintain a relationship with someone you trust outside of your company who observes you and your company’s operation – better enabling you to achieve #1