Warships have no deckchairs.

Making effective changes to own the POST-COVID era.


If you have ever walked the topside of a US Navy warship, you will notice that aside for a very small and mostly ceremonial teak-topped area called the “quarterdeck”, it is all covered in “non-skid” and there are no deckchairs in sight. That’s because these ships are designed to own the competition, and its crew is not onboard to lollygag.


COVID19 has had a profound impact on the global economy. Those companies that have succeeded in spite of this impact share one thing in common: they modified the balance of their people, process and technology (PPT) triangle to absorb and overcome unforeseen and to a point, unfathomable new business constraints.

“Q4” is fast approaching; a time when traditionally the plans for “next year” are forged. This year is unlike any other and the sequence control-“a”, control-“c” and control-“v” is not going to cut it. If you want your company to not only survive, but thrive in the post-COVID world, this planning period brings with it opportunities too good to pass on.

Do you want your company to perform like the “Poseidon”, or be like Mighty Mo?

1. BELIEVE THAT THE MOST DIFFICULT CHANGES ARE POSSIBLE

Before COVID we had to travel to see customers face to face. We had to get to the office by 8:00AM and leave (did we get to leave?) no sooner than 5:00PM. We had to meet face to face in order to have critical meetings. Who knew that meeting via @WebEX or @Zoom in your favorite t-shirt after your 5 second commute from the coffee pot was acceptable to close a sales deal? And yet, most have managed to do so.

As you enter the planning season, do so with the belief that everything is possible. Do so as well, understanding that every business process you choose to keep must have a good ROI thus, if you want to justify status quo or change, know that either is possible – but it must be worth your company’s time and money.

2. ELIMINATE POINTLESS ACTIVITIES

If you are a sales director and you have to spend three hours a week preparing slides for a meeting, you are wasting your company’s time and money. If you are a sales manager and you have to spend 30 minutes preparing a two-item quote, you and your company are wasting time and money. If you are project manager and you spend two hours preparing financials and slides for a corporate-wide project review, you are wasting your customer’s time and money.

You are wasting time and money because all of these, and many other activities can be effectively and efficiently automated by a myriad of applications and tools. As you plan for 2021 and beyond, don’t just consider how to automate a bad or dated process. Rather, look at all of your requirements, identify the ones that add value at all, and then consider who should be responsible and how they should be accomplished. If you are fully staffed and constrained by budget, this may be a way to free FTE units on your plan and get more done with less. Change the balance of your PPT triangle until it works for the new normal.

3. QUESTION IT ALL, AND BE PURPOSEFUL IN EVERYTHING YOU CHANGE.

Rearranging chairs in the Titanic had no impact on the final outcome. If actually true, it would have tied up valuable resources in “busy work” that was ultimately wasted. Before you consider shuffling personnel or procedural changes, consider if you are best organized to overcome new business constraints. Don’t just ask “how can I do this differently?” but rather “why are we doing this at all?”

Do you need your CFO to review every quote, or is it that you need to have the financials of every quote reviewed using consistent standards by a qualified manager?

Do you need program management to review every order that comes in before accepting it, or could you have a certified PMP review orders coming in to see if they match what was, and how it was bid?

The better answer for either question above depends on what constraints you want to mitigate in the post COVID era. Spend time questioning previous beliefs. Consider having an external SME inspect your business and share how successful businesses thrive in the new world. As well, listen to the “silenced prophets” in your cubicles. I bet you that they have great ideas that should be considered. After all, the changes we are dealing with are unprecedented so, every idea should be considered. Perhaps the deckchairs make great rafts. If so, get to it.

4. REVISIT EVEN UNCONVENTIONAL PROCESSES AND IDEAS YOU SHOT DOWN IN THE PAST

Some ideas are good, but they sometimes appear before their time. Should your CRM be integrated with your ERP? Should your quote-to-order tool be linked to your MRP? Years ago, these may have been good ideas that were just too difficult to implement. With the mainstream adoption of iPaaS tools like @Boomi, @Jitterbit and @Informatica integrating your business has never been easier.

No offense to vegans, but sacred cows make great hamburgers. Consider new ideas and look at all good ideas of the past. In questioning it all, and looking for new levels of effectiveness and efficiency a reinvented and better performing company is waiting to emerge.

5. DO. THERE IS NO “TRY”

I’m not even going to entertain the fact that Yoda also said “or do not.” There is nothing more frustrating that analysis paralysis. Actually, yes – knowing that you are experiencing it, and analyzing that knowledge and waiting further guidance.

While it is true that not everything has to change, most industries have been impacted by COVID in one way or another. Perhaps your specific company has not been directly impacted, but odds are some of your competitors’ companies have. If that is the case, I can guarantee you that they have expedited their planning process and they are making changes; reinventing themselves for the “A.C.” world.

There are no deckchairs in a warship, because we sailors don’t lollygag at sea. Be ready for tough competition ahead, and if you see your competitor’s topside lose its deckchairs, stop rearranging yours. Prepare for the new normal, or you may just need your nice deckchairs as rafts.

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