Insights 20 May 2020

Shifting ‘Mindsets’ – Key to success during COVID-19: embracing technologies to go through changes

Organizations must adjust their strategies in all dimensions to speed up transformation towards the new business normal.

The escalating COVID-19 pandemic at present affects not only the ways of life for people around the world, but also the whole economic system. This is considered just the beginning of the nightmare, as global economies are expected to face another several months of economic recession and several years of recovery.

Business organizations must expeditiously launch rigorous measures to handle the situation. Among the early measures taken by the organizations are reducing costs and keeping expenses down, with more focus shifting to investments in technologies to optimize work processes to gain competitive advantages and become a market leader.

COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 situations will be key factors for unprecedented, disruptive changes towards economies, societies, and personal behaviors. Many work skills are going to be changed. Dedication or high work capability alone is not enough anymore. Technology skills are becoming critical in bringing businesses to ride out the changes.  The COVID-19 outbreak is considered the most prominent catalyst in years for both people and organizations to step up and adjust themselves towards changes. If the organizations still do not begin transformation and development of human skills to stay current with the trends of today, it may be too late for them and their businesses and performances in the future could be jeopardized. Therefore, it is critical that businesses adjust their strategies in all dimensions so as to expeditiously transform themselves to be on par with the new business normal after the end of the COVID-19.

Shift mindsets and embrace technologies to support organizations

Adopting technologies or innovations in organizations inevitably leads to changes to existing internal work processes as the organizations need novel work skills that deviate from traditional practices. However, many organizations may encounter the problem of failures to optimize the use of those technologies due to personnel’s inability or resistance to adapting.

When organizations wish to transform themselves, the main focus and priority to steer the organizations toward successes should be fostering people’s development, adjusting their attitudes to be readied for the changes, and to be aware that technologies are neither threats nor obstacles but are ways to improve work efficiency, so that they can come to terms with technologies. There are multiple ways to get the right mindsets in order to foster a new corporate culture at times of weathering changes, for example:

1. To design measures to stimulate changes through tangible rewards or incentives:  Using motivation or incentives will encourage people to develop desirable behaviors with willingness and eagerness to drive the organizations towards goal achievement. Therefore, organizations should devise plans or programs to motivate people to accept changes such as cash rewards, special merit points, bonuses, etc.

2. To persuade employees to gain understanding and inspiration: To drive changes, the management needs to understand and educate the employees as to why it is now time for change. The management and employees shall together move forward as one team with new organizational goals and methods.

3. To promote the readiness of skilled personnel by overseeing and developing the organization’s workforce to be ready for the future: This can be achieved through investments in capacity-building trainings for employees. Organizations may choose to develop their employees by educating them to apply relevant technologies by themselves on a trial basis for further appropriate adoption at work.

4. To adjust organizations to be flexible by setting up a function related to identifying new innovative solutions separately from the core functions: Currently, work processes need to be agile and flexible in response to changes. Thus, it is important for organizations to develop or identify new innovations. To this end, the establishment of a dedicated unit to handling disruption has been seen.   For example, SCB 10X was set up separately from SCB in order to invest in and develop digital and technological businesses. Also, Kbank established KBTG to cope with changes in FinTech technologies. In addition, SCG joined hands with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in establishing ‘SCG-CAS ICCB Innovation Hub’ in order to scale up researches and studies of technologies to respond to consumer needs.

Required skills at times of disruption

Certain organizations may think that their personnel are ready, knowledgeable and specialized in cutting-edge technologies. However, in reality, this may not always be true anymore as the skills or knowledge of the past may not be sufficient to meet future needs.

According to the research results of the World Economic Forum in ASEAN, it was found that the life span of any knowledge piece is 9 years. This means that after 9 years, the knowledge of today may no longer be valid. As such, many organizations have started to place more importance on a life-long learning skill.

This skill also covers the ability to accept and learn from failures, and the fostering of a culture where people are brave to step out of their comfort zones to embark on new things. For example, Google gives rewards to new innovative projects within the company despite their failures. This is an indirect way to tell its employees that they should be brave to do new things even though their ideas may not work out, and that they should accept and learn from such failures.

Another important skill at this time of changes is the ability to move together as one team. This skill deals with how to live with others, and to always be open-minded and listen to others’ different opinions. However, strengthening and instilling the life-long learning skill is still a new concept for many organizations.  Naturally, people are inclined to like things they feel familiar with and fear changes. It is considered a huge challenge for organizations, especially those that have been in business for a long time, to build up a culture and skills required for their people in dealing with today’s rapid changes.