Thinking beyond the crisis: post-pandemic strategy and leadership

CI&T Team

Thinking beyond the crisis: post-pandemic strategy and leadership
Posted on Oct 8, 2020

 

You are going to read about:

  • Building a strategy to deal with the new world
  • Digital Lean: a powerful transformation methodology
  • The new leadership 
  •  

"Currently, the main question for big and successful companies is how they should react to this digital storm."

Cesar Gon, founder and CEO of CI&T


 

We are going through a great crisis, a turning point in modern history that brings profound changes in people's way of life and behavior. This reflects in all scenarios - social, political and economic - and largely affects the functioning of more traditional organizations. Large companies that until then had a certain clarity of the playing field and were gradually adapting to the changes in digital, had to totally redirect modes of operation in a few weeks, and take on profound transformations in a few months.  

 

Accompanying customers in this process of redirection so abruptly and moving our own operation that has had a solid digital structure for years, we understand what are the most successful and safe ways to move towards the future. Based on this understanding, our founder and CEO, Cesar Gon, and our CSO, Bob Wollheim, recorded a podcast (available in English), in which they analyze and reflect on the current moment, grounded in the learning that was consolidated in our 25 years of history and with look to the future. 

 

According to Cesar, there are two essential perspectives that should support the companies' efforts: a strategic redirection, which must be flexible and constantly reevaluated, and a new leadership model. 

 

Building a strategy to deal with the new world

"The change in consumer behavior accelerated unexpectedly, widening the gap that already existed between deliveries by companies and the consumer; this opened up a great space for disruptive innovation. "

Cesar Gon

 

Speaking about the need to take advantage of the opportunities that the moment brings and build a strategy focused on growth and disruptive innovation, Cesar brought the model of evolution of companies coined by the author and professor Clayton M. Christensen. According to this model, companies grow driven by three different and gradual strategic focuses: 

 

1 - Continuous improvement of the core business - i.e., improve existing processes, products and services.  

2 - Expanding the core business to new consumers - or use marketing and design strategies to reach a new target. 

3 - Create truly disruptive options for the future - or modify companies' mental models and ways of operating to put the consumer at the center of strategies. 

 

Most companies focus 70% to 80% of their investments on the first strategy, expecting short-term results. They leave 10% to 20% for the second initiative, with the objective of reaping fruits between two and five years. For the most disruptive initiatives, they reserve a maximum of 5% of their efforts and budget, considering results in five to 10 years.

 

"I think there is a new way of looking at strategy in today's digital world. It is necessary to correlate technology with an innovation base. The idea should be to invest more in the third initiative, focusing on taking advantage of new technologies and new opportunities and to build aggressive disruptions in front of your competitors. " 

Cesar Gon

 

According to Cesar, one way to start adopting this new approach is to classify what your company is doing in terms of taking risks. The need is to test, to take risks in new marketing strategies, in new technologies and, mainly, in new ways of delivering value to consumers.

 

"If you look at iconic companies like Netflix, Airbnb and Uber, you will notice that, probably in the first moment of history, these companies became dominant by focusing on the last two initiatives."

Cesar Gon

 

It is precisely with this view of delivering more and more value to customers in new and surprising ways that we support large companies in their digital transformation processes. The basis of these journeys is a methodology that we developed and that combines the principles of Lean management philosophy with the tools, practices and processes of Agile and Design. This is the Lean Digital

 

"Lean Digital is the combination of disruption in terms of aggressive use of data, design and technology with the discipline of leadership and Lean mindset."

Cesar Gon

 

Digital Lean: a powerful transformation methodology 

Following our customers and observing the market, we learned that the digital transformation journeys in the most traditional companies depend, basically, on the reformulation of three pillars: digital product development processes; the management system; and how to lead. 

 

Using the principles and tools of Lean Digital, it is possible to reformulate these three perspectives in a gradual, consistent and sustainable way. To learn more about this methodology, you can access the content on this topic on our blog or read our e-book Faster Faster: The Dawn of Lean Digital, in which we tell how we developed Lean Digital, its practices and the transformation cases of some of our clients, such as Itaú and Coca-Cola.

 

"You need to change the way your company evolves the digital experience it delivers, its digital platforms, reshape the path you take with your digital products, the way you handle your data. Of course, I'm talking about having squads, about Agile, DevOps, Design Thinking, Microservices, Cloud, Advanced Analytics, Machine Learning and a huge list of methodologies and techniques. But it is also necessary to redesign its Management System, the way in which planning and budgets are carried out, how the company operates. You need a management system that is really focused on connecting strategy with the squads' daily work. And finally, you need a new approach to leadership development. "

Cesar Gon

 

The new leadership 

"We don't need bosses, we need leaders. This is a radical personal change in leadership and management. Perhaps this is the critical part of the process for gaining speed in change. To get to the point, the problem is 'us': the leaders, managers, and executives who have very successful careers, built in the corporate world of the past." 

Cesar Gon

 

Analyzing the third pillar more deeply - on the formation of leaders - Cesar draws attention to the fact that, having built solid careers with modes of action focused on command and control, most senior leaders are not prepared to take on a more digital profile.

 

"We found this success using ancient leadership methods: being in control, knowing the answers, not making mistakes. It is almost impossible to have innovation and agility using this classic form of leadership style based on command and control."

Cesar Gon

 

According to him, new leaders need to be prepared to collaborate more than to command, to ask the right questions more than to give the answers, and to give autonomy instead of controlling. Leadership in digital times - especially in uncertain times like today - must be aimed at developing a constant learning mentality - both in itself and in the company - and be able to create environments that encourage experimentation and risk taking.

 

For this, the leadership must modify its view on errors and problems. Mistakes must be seen as growth opportunities and levers for innovation, and must be understood as natural parts of the process of developing new products, services and experiences. 

 

Finally, he describes the skills needed for new leadership and says they are directly linked to the ability to understand people. It is the people, their engagement, their talent and their creativity that will build the company's success. 

 

"In 25 years of living passionately in this crazy technology industry, there is one thing that I learned and that might define me as an entrepreneurial leader: the more technology is the protagonist, the more the human dimension matters. When I really look at what happens, technology doesn't innovate - at least, not yet. People do that. Technology is not disruptive, people are. So, my advice to leaders is: as long as you maintain your hard skills, such as finance, marketing, operations and technology, put a lot of effort into developing your soft skills."

Cesar Gon

 

And what are those soft skills that Cesar refers to? They are mainly those that help to understand people. In other words, empathy, collaboration, co-creation and a sense of how to engage your team members and how to translate the company's strategy into a greater purpose.

 

"Being a leader is, above all, putting the human face in the lead." 

Cesar Gon