Five actions to boost your sales organization’s resilience

Posted in Aktuellt, Försäljning / Sales on July 7th, 2020 by admin
Efforts to squeeze out additional sales could be more profitably invested in the sales force. Here’s how to raise morale, build capabilities, and position your team for recovery.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, many sales leaders are facing a tough choice: drive as many sales as possible today or prepare for the future. Most sales leaders are trying to do both, of course, but the intense pressures they’re feeling as economies around the world pull back create an urgency to focus on the short term.That sense of urgency has led some companies to try to recapture lost revenues by increasing targets for their sales teams. Since many of these targets are unrealistic, they can further demoralize sales teams that are already reeling from the leap to remote selling. This state of affairs has exacerbated a tendency among sales leaders to focus on short-term performance in meeting targets and forecasts, achieving growth, and closing deals.

We believe sales leaders could better use this time as an opportunity to invest in their sales teams. By thoughtfully building up their psychological health and capabilities, sales leaders can ensure that their teams are ready to leap ahead of competitors as the economy recovers. Research and experience back this up. Recent McKinsey research into and analysis of the performance and growth strategies of approximately 2,000 companies between 2007 and 2017 reinforces how critical it is to stay focused on through-cycle growth. This is true not only to ensure long-term survival but also to generate total returns to shareholders (TRS) of 8 percent compared with their peers, who stay at about zero.

To support their teams and get ready for the recovery, we recommend leaders take these five actions:

1. Reset and adjust expectations around scenarios

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on 2020 revenue targets. Sales leaders need to acknowledge that meeting the original targets may be almost impossible and then set more realistic expectations (which will, of course, vary by sector).

Given the uncertainty around economic recovery, companies should consider basing their new targets on a set of different scenarios. This approach will allow rapid and realistic adjustments to revenue expectations as scenarios shift in response to leading indicators and milestones such as the reopening of key markets.

Once companies define the range of scenarios and the revenues achievable in each, they should then break them down into realistic sales targets for business units and individuals. If possible, business-unit sales plans should be adjusted from the bottom up to identify territories and accounts with the most revenue potential. Similarly, individual performance plans and development goals should be updated to motivate sales reps to a reasonable level of performance while holding them accountable for their performance.

2. Rethink bonuses and incentives

Many sales reps receive a significant portion of their remuneration from commissions. A prolonged downturn will inevitably hit their income. Companies can help by doing two things: first, provide immediate financial security, and second, realign incentives for the longer term.

For example, a consumer-services company has more than 2,000 reps whose entire income is derived from commissions. The company rapidly deployed an emergency pay program that provided a percentage of monthly prorated pay based on last year’s earnings to offer security and reduce both anxiety and the potential for attrition. By guaranteeing earnings, the company was able to retain its valuable sales force.

Additionally, companies can shift their reward systems toward behaviors that will support the recovery process. For example, in the financial services industry, clients may not be readily signing up for new financial products during this period of uncertainty. Financial services companies can shift a greater portion of their incentive systems to reward new client leads (rather than new customers). This ensures that the front of the sales funnel is fully loaded with qualified leads that are ready to be converted and helps keep reps optimistic for the next phase.

3. Invest in sales-force capabilities for the recovery

The vast majority of B2B companies have shifted their go-to-market (GTM) model during COVID-19 toward digital and remote selling. Two-thirds of B2B decision makers surveyed believe that their new model is as effective, if not more so, than previous models. Looking ahead, B2B companies expect digital interactions to be two to three times more important to their customers than traditional sales interactions.

With this profound shift to digital, companies need to be thoughtful about what skills their reps need to succeed in this digital remote reality. In fact, some 77 percent of leaders indicated that retraining salespeople was very or moderately important, according to recent McKinsey research. Investing time and money in building up their skills tells sales reps unequivocally that they are important and valued, while also priming them to succeed in the digitally driven recovery.

One critical area of focus is around using data and insights to make better selling decisions. Some companies are investing in training their reps on how to use AI tools, for example, that provide next-product-to-buy recommendations so they can better cross-sell or upsell. Others are choosing to retrain field sales reps so they can adopt inside sales roles and provide customers with technical consultative expertise via their website’s chat function.

One financial-planning firm has found great success in using this time to modernize its sales practices by deploying a large-scale capability-building program focused on developing reps’ skills around digital technologies. The company rapidly put in place a cross-functional team of experts from learning, communications, product management, and sales to develop virtual learning modules and journeys tailored to reps in every layer of the sales organization. This training program helped reps adapt to the digital channels their customers were using and capitalize on demand to realize record sales over the last quarter.

4. Revamp tools and processes to support your salespeople

In a recent survey, B2B buyers indicated that they value three things above all from sellers: speed, transparency, and expertise. Sales leaders should therefore take the time to realign their sales operations (tools, systems, and processes) to equip their sales force to deliver on these needs.

For companies that have switched to virtual selling, codifying successful sales plays can help sales reps across the organization learn quickly and put into practice what works. For example, even in the world of remote selling, the sales play for selling life insurance to a tech-savvy young professional would be very different from the one for a baby boomer who may not be as comfortable with digital platforms. Consultative selling for the former may fully revolve around digital collaboration tools such as Box and Zoom, while the latter may involve physically mailing marketing materials and following up with phone calls.

Additionally, companies should realign sales processes so that the sales force can replicate them at scale. For example, virtual sales require the same discipline and standardization as face-to-face sales. Sales leaders should set expectations on what the standard operating model should be in this new environment, literally spelling out what Monday to Friday should look like for reps—for example, how much time they should spend generating new leads and how much connecting with existing customers. Sales leaders can also help reps master the details of the virtual sales process through active coaching about, for example, how best to use social platforms such as LinkedIn to generate leads, or how to use sales materials to follow up a virtual meeting in order to increase conversion rates. Many companies have also adopted virtual ride-alongs, which actually allows managers to support more people than the real thing in pre-COVID-19 days.

Given the advances in sales technology, sales leaders also need to equip their reps with the tools to drive better decisions. For example, the increased use of inside sales as well as remote and digital channels has made it more critical than ever to ensure that customer-relationship management (CRM) is up-to-date and clean. Companies should consider investing in CRM modules that can automate data population and enrich CRM data with insights from external databases (for example, intelligence on key stakeholders).

5. Provide leadership with vision and clarity

It may be a cliché to say that leadership is crucial in a crisis, but too often sales leaders fall short. The best sales leaders focus not only on communicating a clear vision of where the organization needs to go but also on demonstrating a commitment to their people. Communication is particularly important now, when those working from home can feel isolated and disconnected. Keeping the sales organization focused and energized is crucial for laying the foundation for performance heading into the recovery.

Sales leaders should take pains to communicate at a strategic as well as personal level. Leaders can get ahead of their sales force’s concerns by being transparent about the company’s overall outlook and by sharing and celebrating wins. It is important to be authentic and keep communications from becoming rote and stale, particularly as remote working persists. One sales leader we know has implemented multiple “Ask Me Anything” sessions where the sales force can get updates on the business and ask absolutely anything. Questions can be difficult, but leadership has been clear that this commitment to transparency has built up confidence among sales reps.

Additionally, sales leaders should take the opportunity to connect with their sales teams on a personal level. For many, COVID-19 has impacted their livelihood. Leaders can support their sales teams by having one-to-one touchpoints via email, phone, or Zoom. For example, the leaders of one financial-services organization we know blocked out time to call each employee to check in, listen, and nurture. This not only provided employees with affirmation of their value but also allowed leadership to have “ears on the ground” and hear news from the front lines. In many cases, these calls can include coaching to help salespeople improve their performance. And don’t forget to try to have fun. Informal get-togethers or inviting outside speakers to talk about topics unrelated to business are important to maintaining morale.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis has slashed demand. Sales leaders need to actively balance both short- and long-term performance. But in managing around the current crisis, they need to have a clear understanding of the diminishing returns of some short-term activities, and instead invest in their people so they’re ready for the recovery.

Source:, 1 July 2020
Authors: Bertil Chappuis, Daniel Law, Maria Valdivieso and Ben Vonwiller
About the authors: Bertil Chappuis is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office, Daniel Law is an associate partner in the Houston office, Maria Valdivieso is a partner in the Miami office, and Ben Vonwiller is a partner in the New York office.

After COVID-19: How leaders can engage employees during a return to work

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Leadership / Ledarskap on July 2nd, 2020 by admin

As organizations embark on the reentry phase of the COVID-19 crisis, four practices can help them build trust and a sense of purpose for the long term.

When the COVID-19 crisis first erupted, organizations across the world were plunged into such uncertainty it was hard for many to know whether they would emerge intact. Now, though the road ahead remains difficult, leaders are shifting from whether they can return to how to do so.Leaders are also having to manage waves of unfore­seen crises, including the recent protests in the United States and elsewhere. These events can take as much of a toll on workers’ productivity and mental health as radical, rapid changes in the workplace. Employees will have to confront cycles of disruption and adaptation, driven both by pandemic-related health reasons and new business imperatives, ranging from reorganizations to further reductions in workforces or furloughs.This reentry and recovery phase of the pandemic crisis provides leaders with a compelling reason to engage and strengthen overall connections with employees. Recognizing and addressing the core human emotions of grief, loss, and anxiety in the workplace is a chance to rebuild organizational health, productivity, and talent retention. It provides a historic opportunity to overcome the stigma of mental and emotional health as taboo topics for workplace discussion, especially the feelings of isolation and shame that are attached to job losses and other employment casualties.Companies that have pledged to support their workforces and have delivered on that promise have demonstrated their reliability and bolstered their reputations. Now is the time to continue to maintain and build on that trust, as the focus shifts from public health in general to the specifics of each organization’s individual recoveries.Clear and inspiring communication is central to making this next unsteady phase a success. In addition to moving decisively on strategic changes, leaders need to help rattled workforces believe in the future. For many people, their employer has been a zone of relative stability during a time of chronic uncertainty. Employees have viewed corporate leaders as the most trusted source of information since the frantic early days of the pandemic, especially where state institutions have been less reliable in their responses.Communication messaging and activity in four overlapping phases will help employees move from loss to renewal. These steps—laying the groundwork, honoring the past, marking the transi­tion, and looking to the future—can help leaders design the right approach to communicating that works for their organization’s circumstances, culture, and history.Because actual experiences of the pandemic will have varied, we segment organizations into “survivors” (struggling to stay in business), “adapters” (having to change their business models radically), and “thrivers” (well-positioned because of extra demand or because they were already working remotely). Some of the ideas below will need to be nuanced differently for each segment.

Lay the groundwork: Be sensitive to employees’ needs

Before thinking about reentry at scale, leaders should understand where people are mentally and prepare accordingly. Some will be enthusiastic about returning to the office, while others will not want to venture back yet. Still others may want to reenter in theory, but worry about risks to their health and the safety of their loved ones.

Teachers from Lombardy to the United Kingdom to New York are a good example of how leaders have to weigh these concerns. Many want to return out of a sense of professionalism and because they miss their students; on the other hand they must think about their own health and that of their families if reopened schools become new vectors of transmission.

In addition to immediate risks to their own health and safety and that of their loved ones, people are facing long-term uncertainty around lockdowns and job insecurity: Will their employer go under? Will their retirement savings be wiped out by a new depression? Based on stress syndromes from previous pandemics and early surveys from Asia during COVID-19, there may be a 25 percent stress syndrome incidence rate.

Practical steps include:

  • Survey employees regularly so you know which camp they fall into. Focus on psychological readiness, and seek to identify practical concerns. Know who wants to come back as soon as possible, and who will need more time to be comfortable—whether because they are in high-risk groups or because they no longer have reliable childcare, or for some other reason. This will depend to some extent on job categories, with some people having less choice about when to return. Here too inequalities will need to be addressed with sensitivity.
    • For survivors, show how returning to work will increase the chances of a quick return to viability.
    • For adapters, show how the new ways of work­ing will continue to help the organization.
    • For thrivers, show how the return is a consolidation of and a reward for everyone’s efforts.
  • Make your return planning processes transparent. Indicate who is working on the plan, how they are thinking about it, and when announcements will be made. Make it clear how you will be thinking about phasing and who will fall into which phase. Where possible, put bounds on the uncertainty: What do you know is definitely happening, what is definitely not happening, and when do you expect to have firmer answers?
  • Offer information about the practicalities. How hard is it to travel to your site(s)? What has changed in terms of public transport? What will being back at the site look and feel like? This might be a combination of written materials and videos.
  • Solicit feedback from all stakeholders on a recurring basis. Some have put together task forces to simply process feedback; others have set up recurring dialogues with employees.
  • Clarify how people can get their questions addressed.

Honor the past: Address emotions directly

Research into post-traumatic growth suggests that companies that move effectively to address trauma, grief, loss, uncertainty, and anxiety can rebound more quickly and experience stronger success. Throughout the pandemic, employees have experienced varying degrees of trauma and loss, both in their workplaces and in their personal lives. As grief experts have written, acknowledging and addressing loss helps people build resilience.

Leaders need to invest time in cultivating open, compassionate conversations about what has been lost in the pandemic. They should validate that there is an emotional impact and that it can be a topic of discussion in the workplace. While conversations about the emotional toll of the pan­demic may seem uncomfortable or unnecessary, they help strengthen ties with employees, who appreciate leaders’ openness.

Top teams that skip this step risk the appearance of being tone deaf or callous, thereby undermining their authentic concerns about moving the organization forward. Leaders should be sure their efforts are authentic; acting empathetic without showing true compassion can, in some cases, make things worse. Precise messaging will of course depend on the circumstances and the context.

In addition to individual or team conversations, look for ways that companies can honor the past. For instance, companies that have dealt with workplace violence have found ways to mourn the loss of employees through memorials, establishing scholarships, holding fundraisers, or volunteering together for a cause that resonates with the team.

Practical steps include:

  • Lead conversations with individuals and teams about emotional impact.
    • The CEO needs to be prominent here; this is not work to be delegated. Our experience is that employees are more eager than ever to hear from their organization’s top leader. This may well involve attending multiple smaller groups.
    • Normalize emotional concerns of employees at all levels. Hold top team conversations about real and perceived losses from the pandemic, how it has affected us and recognize the contributions that the team and all employees have made. Define this as an important and open conversation to have. Ensure that other leaders work with their teams similarly, and cascade the conversation throughout the organization.
  • Take time to celebrate and reinforce the values the company stands for, and how they were demonstrated in the company’s pandemic response.

For example, a century ago Lysol marketed itself as a weapon against the Spanish Flu. Today, employees are being encouraged to see them­selves as frontline workers helping to keep people safe. Several hotel chains in the United States and some universities and hotels in the United Kingdom have offered their prop­erties to medical personnel who needed a place to rest while caring for COVID-19 patients in nearby hospitals.

  • For survivors, stress the long history of the organization and how it has weathered storms before.
  • For adapters, stress the ways in which the organization has reinvented itself in the past.
  • For thrivers, stress the ways in which current success is built on long-standing values.

Create company-wide recognition efforts to honor employees who:

  • died in the pandemic (recognizing those who have passed away is crucial to normalizing loss and grief)
  • served on the frontlines during the crisis (medical personnel, volunteers)
  • kept the organization moving (the “quiet heroes”)

In some cases it will also be appropriate to honor clients, partners, suppliers, and customers who may have died or served on the crisis frontlines. Being explicit about these recognition efforts will stop the losses from becoming a great unmentionable. As grief expert David Kessler says, “What everyone has in common is that no matter how they grieve, they share a need for their grief to be witnessed.” Leaders are important sources of resilience for their people—and also important factors in post-traumatic growth following crisis.

Showing gratitude (as well as receiving it) is also important for mental health. For example, during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, first responders who reported stronger feelings of gratitude subsequently reported higher levels of resilience and life satisfaction. During COVID-19, people across the globe have honored hospital workers and first responders by cheering together at an appointed hour. Hospital workers have also gathered to support patients being sent home after recovering from the virus. These examples provide an indelible sense of everyone being in the crisis together.

  • Create an ecosystem so employees can maintain relationships with those who have been furloughed or lost their jobs, presumably for economic reasons and not for lack of perfor­mance. Isolation from others in the pandemic, coupled with the stigma of job loss, can have a devastating impact on departing employees.
    • Let retained employees know that it’s OK to have a relationship with former colleagues and reach out to provide support in their job searches.
    • Launch or expand an alumni network to main­tain good relationships and foster a future talent network. These networks are a natural connection point to continue relationships.
    • Link these stay-in-touch efforts to company values such as respect and collaboration.
  • Survey employees after these activities to assess how well honoring the past has worked. Con­sider measuring employee health factors such as burnout, job satisfaction, and psychological safety. Some elements may need to be repeated, or integrated as part of the new ways of working.

Mark the transition: Recognize the power of ritual

Rituals create a sense of familiarity and reassurance. They help us navigate loss and celebrate joyful events in our lives: births, graduations, weddings, funerals, and more. People often turn to rituals because the psychological processes underlying them have been shown to have a stress-reducing component.6

Likewise, COVID-19 has created unprecedented upheaval in the lives of our organizations. New rituals, along with company values and a renewed sense of purpose, can serve as pillars of psychological safety and normality.7 They can help employees process what has happened and rebuild social capital—and hopefully replace some of what people have lost. And rebuilding old rituals will be just as important. All rituals are a way of communicating to employees that the losses they have experienced are collectively acknowledged and are manageable.

The workplace provides a relevant and powerful source to help people put traumatic situations into a more motivational perspective. As furloughed employees return to employment and people return from remote working to office- or site-based working, rituals will help mark the start of a new phase in the organization’s life. In terms of Kübler-Ross’s model of the five stages of grief, this is where employees will start to move from depression to acceptance.

We recommend nominating a specific date, or timeframe, that the organization will collectively treat as the start of the “next normal” and around which rituals can be enacted. Of course, not everyone will reenter physically or psychologically at the same time or pace. Things could go awry because of public-health concerns and consequential disruption. Starts are likely to be staggered and involve shifts and cohorts.

For that reason, any date will be in many respects arbitrary—as it is for a wedding—but it is still important to set one. This is the point at which the social ties that bind the organization together are refreshed and reinforced and renewed.

Throughout this phase, focus messaging on discovery as a way simultaneously to look back and ahead. Essentially answer this question: Through the crisis and our response, what have we learned about ourselves, each other, and our organization that can help us in the future?

Practical steps include:

  • Make the focus of communication the well-being of employees, not work.
  • Set a specific timeframe of events (exhibit) for the organization to pivot from past to future.
  • Provide a “welcome back” kit, consisting of what employees need to navigate the new normal. This might include equipment as well as rules of the road for meetings, elevator use, and so on; medical experts can offer specific guidance on the most appropriate products to include. The University of Virginia, for example, will offer returning students a welcome-back kit that includes masks, hand sanitizer, and a tool to help open doors and press buttons.
  • Be sure people continue to know where to turn for help and continue to communicate the availability of resources, including employee assistance programs (EAPs).

Look to the future: Embrace a new sense of purpose

Leaders may be tempted to withdraw into small, tight decision-making task forces to make key decisions as quickly as possible. Instead, they can use this moment to define and demonstrate a common sense of purpose with employees, who will be looking for leadership and ways to engage themselves. Purposeful leaders will want to share execution plans broadly with staff to solicit input and engage them on the challenges the organization faces.

Taking the time to reflect on purpose can have an array of benefits. At the organizational level, purpose­ful companies have been shown to out­perform competitors on equity returns and have more engaged employees. At the personal level, reconnecting to purpose has been shown to be a critical factor in coping with crises and trauma. When decision makers align their decision making and communication messaging with a sense of purpose they may help support their employees’ potential at a time when leadership needs it most.

Use this period to create a cultural conversation across the company and a positive outlook about its future. Many of the recommended activities above will be appropriate for small groups, perhaps spread over a few weeks or, where possible, held simul­taneously on a single day, with options for people to participate remotely.

Practical steps include:

  • Start or renew discussions on corporate purpose, based on discoveries from the crisis.
    • For survivors, how do we retain our purpose in a changed world?
    • For adapters, how do we move quickly to new ways of working?
    • For thrivers, how do we maintain our current success as the world slowly returns to normal?
  • Show how this purpose feeds into strategic direction—the “Where are we going?” Articulate how to strengthen the connection between purpose and business actions, for instance, how we display the value of “customer first” in specific actions, such as offering a comprehen­sive customer experience, that we have never taken before.
    • Managers and team leaders should speak with their teams about how the work they’re doing contributes to recovery; they can ask people what motivates them and gives their work meaning.
  • Set the strategic direction in context by develop­ing, articulating, and sharing the organization’s new/refreshed change story—the “How do we get there, and why will it be worth it?” This will help people understand what the future looks like:
    • What has changed over the last few months?
    • What has stayed the same? (This includes the enduring values story.)
    • How do we prioritize?
    • What are new expectations of leaders? Of employees?
  • Commit/recommit to organizational health. This could include new or updated diagnostics and surveys.
  • Showcase stories about “living your purpose,” both personal and organizational, in internal communications: through the company intranet, news stories, and town halls.
  • Continue to monitor the effectiveness of communication over the course of a few months; evaluate and adjust as needed.

All of the practical steps we recommend above stem from the need for clear, empathetic communi­cation that keeps people optimistic and hopeful, but also resilient and prepared for further disruption. This stage of recovery will challenge organizations’ communications functions to become even more agile, as they shift between crisis response mode and normal, more future-oriented strategies. Leaders will not know all the answers, but as long as they communicate openly and candidly, employees will respect being brought into the conversation.


Source:, 26 June 2020
Authors: David Honigmann, Ana Mendy and Joe Spratt
About the author(s): David Honigmann is a client communication expert in McKinsey’s London office, Ana Mendy is a partner in the Southern California office, and Joe Spratt is a client communication expert in the Chicago office.

Use Care When Introducing Coaching Skills to Managers

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on June 29th, 2020 by admin

As a learning and development professional, how do you introduce coaching behaviors to your managers?

“Carefully!” says Madeleine Blanchard, director of coaching services at The Ken Blanchard Companies. “It’s easy for a good thing to go sideways.”

“A lot of bosses have read somewhere that they need to ask more questions. Or listen better. Or provide better feedback,” explains Blanchard. “But without training and a solid plan, it is easy to swing from one extreme to another. The goal is to create a leadership curriculum that helps leaders develop balanced skills, meets people’s needs, and also gets real results.”

That starts with goal setting and direction, says Blanchard.

“If someone is brand new to a task, you don’t ask questions; you tell them what to do. When people have more experience, that’s when you’ll ask the questions.”

Blanchard shares an example.
“Let’s say a manager in a hospitality industry is instructed to do more asking instead of telling. That manager may think it’s okay to ask ‘How do you think we should go about setting up the banquet room for this event?’ to someone who’s never done it before. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do with someone who is new to a task—and it’s a complete waste of everyone’s time. What that manager needs to say in this case is, ‘We are having this many people, which means it’s that many tables.’ Clear, step-by-step: ‘This is how to do it.

“A lot of bosses who think they should be asking questions don’t really understand when and how to do it. They’ll say, ‘I’m asking a lot of questions because I want to have buy-in from people. I want to make sure they feel like they’re included.’ That’s all fine and well, but those people need to have the experience and expertise so that their feedback will add value, versus wasting everybody’s time.”

Blanchard says listening is another skill that can go awry if managers aren’t taught how to keep the conversation on track.

“It’s critical for all managers to develop better listening skills. The problem is if you listen just to listen, some people will go off on tangents and hours will fly by. As a leader, you have to listen for things that will move the conversation forward. Listen so you can steer the discussion toward the area you’re trying to focus on. You may have to call a time out—step in and redirect by saying, ‘May I interrupt? Can we get back to the point?’

“Better questions—what and how questions—can help here. The questions need to be short and targeted specifically toward problem solving and moving people into action.

“Coach-like managers are always moving toward clarity, focus, or action. One of the most common rookie coaching questions is ‘How do you feel about that?’ I know you mean well, but that’s a therapy question, not a coach-like management question. Your goal as a coach-like manager is to clearly pursue what already has been agreed upon by you and the other person.”

Blanchard explains that as a leadership, learning, or talent development professional, you are always looking to help your leaders develop a dual focus on people and results. The same is true when learning how to deliver effective feedback.

“For example, I’m the boss and I go to Ryan and say, ‘You were supposed to be here at 9:00 but you weren’t. What’s going on?’ Ryan says, ‘Oh, my mother’s sick and my car broke down.’ I offer to help him troubleshoot the problems and ask, ‘Would that be helpful to you?’ He says, ‘Yes, please. Let’s do that.’ Then we talk about his transportation issues, or the fact that his mother’s sick and he can’t get out the door because there’s nobody else to take care of his mother. ‘That’s a real problem—let’s talk about that.’ Both parties have to agree on a solution.”

“If a person comes to me and says, ‘It’s really hard for me to talk to customers at the front desk. I’m in a constant state of panic.’ Then I can say, ‘Okay. Let’s talk about that. How might I be able to help you with this?’ Or, ‘What would be helpful to talk about?’ Like that. But we still need to agree.

“It gets trickier when you are offering feedback that is more subjective like teaming, collaboration, or communication skills. You have to ask for permission to share observations in these cases. As a coach-like manager, you say, ‘This input isn’t a request or a requirement, it’s a suggestion. It’s more for your own wellbeing and long-term success, not necessarily for me.’

“When you are offering subjective feedback, look for opportunities to say, ‘I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re on my team. I know you can do this because I saw you do that other thing that was hard. You had the will, you persisted.’ It’s important to remind people of good qualities you’ve observed in them.”

Finally, for L&D professionals looking for a way to promote more coach-like behavior in their organizations, Blanchard suggests a clear starting place.

“Encourage your managers to set aside a little extra time in their one-on-ones—10 to 15 minutes—to ask coaching questions. At The Ken Blanchard Companies, we’ve been beating the drum about better one-on-ones since the beginning of time. How to be a good boss? Check in!

“Good questions could be: ‘What’s most interesting to you about your job? What do you like most about the job? What do you like the least? What would your dream job be? What would you really like to be doing someday?’ That will get the conversations moving in a new and motivating direction.”

Source:, August 2019

Use a High Involvement Approach When Leading Change

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Leadership / Ledarskap on June 6th, 2020 by admin

“What will social distancing look like for us?” “Who have you consulted with?” “How will our performance goals be adjusted?” “What if I don’t have access to childcare?” “What precautions have been put in place to make sure it’s safe to return to work?”

These are just some of the questions leaders need to be prepared for as they consider how they are going to re-open their businesses, says Blanchard change expert Judd Hoekstra.

“The biggest mistake leaders can make is to assume that everyone in the organization is as far along the change process as they are,” says Hoekstra. “It’s easy to forget that while the senior leadership team has been reviewing the data and having planning meetings, the same isn’t true for rank and file employees.”

Hoekstra explains that people have five predictable stages of concern—and corresponding questions—when evaluating a change: information concernspersonal concerns, and implementation concerns followed by impact concerns and refinement concerns.

“When the senior leadership team begins asking people to come back to work, it’s important to allow time to address people’s first three stages of concern. These are the stages that leaders often bypass or don’t spend much time on, mainly because they personally have already worked through them over many weeks of discussions. Because they’ve done it, they mistakenly underestimate the time that others will need to process the same concerns. Our research shows that during change, leaders need to meet folks where they are. So people’s information, personal, and implementation concerns about change are critical for leaders to address right away.

“One of the worst things a leader can do is initiate a change without first addressing people’s concerns. Pushing ahead for the sake of expediency causes people to think ‘My manager hasn’t thought about me at all in this. They haven’t thought about how this is going to impact me.’ On the other hand, when leaders talk about those concerns, people think ‘My manager cares about my concerns—and about me.’

“Leaders have a tendency to want to move fast during change, often by using a top-down approach. While they can make decisions quickly using that approach, it’s likely to slow down or possibly derail implementation of the change because they won’t have the commitment level from people in the company. At best, they’ll have compliance, which won’t be enough in the long term. But if leaders slow down a little bit on the front end by involving more people, giving them a voice in the process, and getting dialogue going, the change implementation will move faster and results will come sooner.”

One of the questions Hoekstra often hears from leaders who are considering using a high involvement strategy is how to make the needed decisions to keep moving forward.

“Even though everyone needs to be involved in the process, that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have a vote. In our Leading People through Change® training program, we discuss the difference between having a voice and having a vote. While few organizations would allow employees a vote in the change process, all organizations have an opportunity to give people a voice. And that voice goes a long way in lowering people’s resistance to the change. Just knowing that the leaders initiating the change are taking input from a lot of different sources and different people goes a long way. People see it as more of a smart process and are better able to understand the rationale for the decisions being made.”

Hoekstra emphasizes that change is a process done best with people, not to people. He points to Gartner research that shows how the most change-adaptive organizations rely on their workforce—not just their executives—to lead change.

“Change leadership teams that encourage open and honest communication have far better results than those that don’t. It’s the free-flowing sharing of information and being in a dialogue, not a monologue, that is key.

“Gartner’s research shows that a high involvement strategy improves engagement, retention, and ultimately implementation speed by up to 33%. So people are more highly engaged, there’s a greater likelihood they will stay with the organization, and the implementation will happen faster.”

For organizations looking to improve their readiness for a short-term change initiative and a long-term change-ready organization, Hoekstra suggests several different strategies.

“Improving leaders’ change readiness skills can be done a few different ways—through training, consulting, or coaching. In every case, leaders must be educated on people’s predictable stages of concern and on communication skills for addressing each stage effectively.

“Change works fast when you’ve won over people’s hearts and minds—and the way you do that is through dialogue. Our ongoing response to COVID-19 provides leaders with an opportunity to keep trust and engagement high by using a high involvement approach.

“The battle hasn’t been won yet. As people come back to the office, there’ll be many questions and concerns as we step into our new normal. It will be critical for leaders to be prepared to address those concerns and lead their organizations forward.”

Author: David Witt
About the author:

David Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast CompanyHuman Resource Development ReviewChief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

Coronavirus: 15 emerging themes for boards and executive teams

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete on June 2nd, 2020 by admin
As Winston Churchill said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” We are seeing some faint signs of progress in the struggle to contain the pandemic. But the risk of resurgence is real, and if the virus does prove to be seasonal, the effect will probably be muted. It is likely never more important than now for boards of directors and executive management teams to tackle the right questions and jointly guide their organizations toward the next normal.Recently, we spoke with a group of leading nonexecutive chairs and directors at companies around the world who serve on the McKinsey Resilience Advisory Council, a group of external advisers that acts as a sounding board and inspiration for our latest thinking on risk and resilience. They generously shared the personal insights and experiences gained from their organizations’ efforts to manage through the crisis and resume work. The 15 themes that emerged offer a guide to boards and executive teams everywhere. Together, they can debate these issues and set an effective context for the difficult decisions now coming up as companies plan their return to full activity.

Managing through the crisis

1. Boards must strike the right balance between hope for the future and the realism that organizations need to hear. There are many prognostications on what comes after COVID-19. Many will be helpful. Some will be right. Boards and managers may have some hopes and dreams of their own. Creating value and finding pockets of growth are possible. It is important to have these aspirations, because they form the core of an inner optimism and confidence that organizations need. However, leaders should not conflate aspirations with a prescience about the future.

2. The unknown portion of the crisis may be beyond anything we’ve seen in our professional lives. Boards and managers feel like they might be grappling with only 5 percent of the issues, while the vast majority are still lurking, unknown. Executives are incredibly busy, fighting fires in cash management and other areas. But boards need to add to their burden and ask them to prepare for a “next normal” strategy discussion. Managers need to do their best to find out what these issues are, and then work with boards to ensure that the organization can navigate them. The point isn’t to have a better answer. The point is to build the organizational capability to learn quickly why your answer is wrong, and pivot faster than your peers do. Resilience comes through speed. This may be a new capability that very few organizations have now, and they will likely need to spend real time building it.

3. Beware of a gulf between executives and the rank and file. Top managers are easily adapting to working from home and to flexible, ill-defined processes and ways of working, and they see it as being very effective and also the wave of the future. Many people in the trenches think it is the worst thing to happen to them (even those that are used to working remotely). Remote working is raising the divide between elites and the common man and woman. There is a real risk of serious tension in the social fabric of organizations and in local and national communities.

4. Don’t overlook the risks faced by self-employed professionals, informal workers, and small businesses. These groups are often not receiving sufficient support. But their role in the economy is vital, and they may be noticed only later, when it is too late.

5. Certain industries and sectors are truly struggling and require support. Several disrupted industries and many organizations in higher education, the arts, and sports are severely struggling and require support to safeguard their survival.

Return to work—the path ahead

6. Mid- to long-term implications and scenarios vary considerably. It’s important to differentiate between industries and regions. Some industries may never come back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

7. What went wrong? Boards and executives, but also academics, need to debate the question. Where should we have been focusing? Take three examples. Why did companies ignore the issue of inadequate resilience in their supply chain? The risks of single sourcing were well known and transparent. Also, why did we move headlong toward greater specialization in the workforce, when we knew that no single skill was permanently valuable? Finally, why did we refuse to evolve our business models, although we knew that technology and shifts in societal preferences were forcing us down a treadmill of ever decreasing value-creation potential?

8. How can we prevent a backlash to globalization? The tendency toward nationalism was already strong and is growing during the crisis. The ramifications will be challenging. For example, in pharmaceutical development, residents of the country where a pharma company has its headquarters may expect to get the drug first. Global companies, despite their experience, may find it harder to address and engage directly with diverse, volatile, and potentially conflicting stakeholders. In such times, societies may need someone to mediate between the private sector and some of these stakeholders.

9. Companies need help with government relations. Strong government interventions are occurring on the back of a serious loss of confidence in free-market mechanisms. There is little question that different governments will land on different answers to the debate around how free markets really ought to be structured. The corporate community has been thrust into a new relationship with government, and it is struggling. The government landscape is fragmented, with highly varied approaches and competencies. Companies are looking for a playbook; no one has an infrastructure to manage this complexity.

10. Where will the equity come from, and with what strings attached? Governments are propping up various sectors with new capital. What will they receive in return? Will they distort markets? How can companies manage this process carefully to emerge from the crisis with a stronger balance sheet? Further, much more capital is likely needed; presumably some of it will come from the private sector. Will capital markets be effective and trusted in such times? Who governs this overall process, and what role should the government play? Is it the time for more state funds?

11. The balance between profits and cash flow is tricky, and essential to get right. Many companies are caught right now and are sacrificing their bottom line in order to pay for their financing. That’s not sustainable; companies will need guidance on how to balance the two.

12. It may be time for responsible acquisitions, including to help restructure certain industries. Many “resilients” have “kept their powder dry,” and are now ready to acquire. But they need to be sensitive and allow sellers a good path to exit. We need guidelines for responsible acquisitions.

13. Cyberrisk is growing. Remote working increases the “attack surface” for criminals and state actors. Both are more active. Chief information officers and chief information security officers are grappling with the overwhelming demand for work-from-home technology and the need for stringent cybersecurity.

14. Innovation may never have been so important. Innovation has always been essential to solving big problems. The world is looking not just for new things but also for new ways of doing things (especially on the people side, where we need new behaviors, long-term rather than short-term), capabilities, and work ethics.

15. The path ahead will surely have ups and downs and will require resilience. As lockdowns are relaxed, and segments of the economy reopen, viral resurgences and unforeseen events will keep growth from being a straight line going up. It will likely be a lengthy process of preserving “lives and livelihoods” over several months, if not years. The reality is that many or even most business leaders made choices over the past decades that traded resilience for a perceived increase in shareholder value. Now may be the moment to consider that the era of chipping away at organizational resilience in the name of greater efficiency may have reached its limits. This is not to say that there are no efficiencies to be sought or found, but more that the trade-off between efficiency and resiliency needs to be defined far more clearly than it has been in recent years.

It is the board’s responsibility to coach and advise its management team, especially when the terrain is trickier than usual. However, boards should not mistake the need for vigorous debate with the need for consensus. More than ever, a bias to action is essential, which will frequently mean getting comfortable with disagreement. Apart from all the operational focus needed for the return to work, it is even more important that boards and management teams take a step back to reflect upon these 15 core themes. In summary:

  1. Take the time to recognize how the people who (directly or indirectly) depend on the company feel.
  2. Have aspirations about the post-COVID world, but build the resilience to make them a reality.
  3. Strengthen your capability to engage and work with regulators and the government.
  4. Watch out for non-COVID risks, and make sure to carve out time to dedicate to familiar risks that have never gone away.
  5. Find out what went wrong, and answer the uncomfortable truths that investigation uncovers
Source:, June 2, 2020
About the author(s): Cindy Levy is a senior partner in McKinsey’s London office,
Jean-Christophe Mieszala is a senior partner and the global chief risk officer 
in the Paris office, Mihir Mysore is a partner in the Houston office, and 
Hamid Samandari is a senior partner in the New York office

Leadership: How to demonstrate calm and optimism in a crisis

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on May 26th, 2020 by admin
Six practices can help leaders build their self-awareness and guide their organizations through the challenges ahead.

When the path ahead is uncertain, people turn to leaders to help them gain clarity and a grounded hope for a better future. They want someone with a positive vision, who is confident about tackling the problems we all face yet courageous enough to confront uncomfortable truths and admit what they do not know.

What’s more, people seek community and safety. Business leaders can underestimate how much their employees look to them for information. To address these needs, leaders should act with deliberate calm and bounded optimism. Those who can visibly demonstrate these qualities help their organizations feel a sense of purpose, giving them hope that they can face the challenges ahead.

But that is hard to do in a crisis, since humans are biologically wired to have a stress response (fight, flight, or freeze) when confronted with volatile environments, unpredictable events, and constant stress

We’ve written about how leaders can shift their organizations to a crisis footing, from launching nerve centers to creating networks of teams. Here we focus on leaders themselves, and how they can prepare themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to respond to the pandemic through the months ahead.

To stay calm and optimistic while under such pressure, leaders should practice what we call integrative awareness: being aware of the changing reality in the outside world and how they are responding emotionally and physically. This intentional practice allows leaders to shift from viewing challenges as roadblocks to seeing them as problems to be solved, and even learned from.

Leading and learning outside your comfort zone

In a crisis, leaders must continuously process large amounts of complex information, contradictory views, and strong emotions. This requires awareness of what happens in the outside world (facts on the ground) and in the inside world (body and mind). Concepts in neuroscience that are closely related to this are “exteroception” (sensitivity to stimuli originating outside of the body) and “interoception” (sensitivity to stimuli originating inside the body). Effectively connecting situational awareness with self-awareness, our outer world with our inner, is what we call integrative awareness.

In a crisis of uncertainty, this process helps leaders avoid overreacting to challenges or jumping to conclusions just to stop feeling uncomfortable. Developing integrative awareness helps leaders recognize these stress responses as opportunities to pause and reflect before acting, giving them the tools to lead with deliberate calm and bounded optimism. When they do that, instinctive biological reactions will start working for them and not against them. Not only will this practice lead to increased effectiveness but it is also essential to managing personal health and energy over a longer period of time. (Jump to the six practices here.)

Deliberate calm: how to steer into the storm

In crisis situations, leaders must make a deliberate choice to practice a calm state of mind. Then they can step back from a fraught or high-stakes situation and choose how to respond, rather than reacting instinctively. These folks become comfortable with discomfort and can look at adversity through a new lens. A leader who is deliberately calm realizes that fear, channeled from uncomfortable facts or emotions, offers potentially valuable information and so doesn’t get unhinged by it. Reframing a threat as an opportunity for learning and innovation turns an uncertain situation into one of hope and possibility. Stress can be good if you harness and frame it constructively ; it keeps energy levels high and positive even in a crisis environment.

We have seen many examples of entrepreneurial and innovative responses to the coronavirus. These run the gamut from local sports clubs that started delivering meals and universities that digitalized their courses to medical innovations related to ventilators and artificial-intelligence-enabled social services for the unemployed.

Compassion and acceptance for self and others is an essential ingredient for leaders who want to be deliberately calm. It is only human to react impulsively to stressful events. And we may regret this and feel ashamed about it. In these moments it is important for leaders to emphasize self-care and self-compassion. We need to remind ourselves that we cannot change the past, but we can change how we perceive it and how we look to the future. Self-care goes beyond making sure to have a good regimen of sleep, eating, and exercise. It is also about letting up on the self-criticism or perfectionism, to be able to connect with core intentions and purpose. Practicing this yourself also enhances your capacity to be empathetic with others.

Being deliberately calm can have a multiplier effect on communities. How humans are “wired” to share emotional cues has been researched extensively. Leaders’ emotions have a big impact on an organization: when a leader is impatient, fearful, or frustrated, people begin to feel the same way, and their feelings of safety diminish. On the other hand, when a leader is hopeful and calm, the group can face challenges more creatively.

After attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019 killed more than 50 people, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earned praise for leading her country’s response to the worst mass murder in its modern history with deliberate calm and compassion. She has exhibited the same leadership attributes in the current crisis: “I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong,” she has said.

Bounded optimism: How to mix confidence and hope with realism

In a crisis, people want leaders to fix things fast. However, in a complex situation like the coronavirus pandemic, familiar answers might not work and could even be counterproductive. Early on, leaders can lose credibility by displaying excessive confidence or by providing simple answers to difficult problems in spite of obviously difficult conditions. It is essential to project confidence that the organization will find its way through the crisis but also show that you recognize its severity. This is authentic confidence —“cheerfulness in the face of adversity,” as the British Royal Marines put it. No one wants to follow a pessimist, but they don’t want to follow a blind optimist either.

Optimism that springs from authentic values and trust in people’s capabilities can be the source of energy for everyone in the organization to move forward. By contrast, optimism without meaning or grounding may lead to disappointment and defeat.

Leaders with bounded optimism practice what we call “meaning making.” Meaning helps everyone remember that difficult times and long hours of work serve a purpose. Think of all those healthcare workers focusing on their patients even at great risk to themselves. Meaning builds confidence, efficacy, and endurance but can also serve as a balm if the outcome is not what was hoped for, because the striving in and of itself was honorable.

The crisis response by Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, has won praise for being optimistic yet bounded by realism. In an address in mid-March, he told the Dutch that “My message to you this evening is not an easy one to hear. The reality is that coronavirus is with us and will remain among us for the time being. There is no easy or quick way out of this very difficult situation.” He outlined steps the country would have to take, before closing with this appeal: “With all the uncertainties out there, one thing is absolutely clear: the challenge we face is enormous, and all 17 million of us will have to work together to overcome it. Together we will get through this difficult period. Take care of each other. I’m counting on you.”

In times of crisis, a leader’s role in creating meaning only grows. Leaders should remember that they are always visible, even if they are not seen in person, and that their authentic role modeling of the organization’s purpose is essential.

Leaders with bounded optimism leverage meaning and personal stories to build connections. In this crisis, when many of us are isolated at home, distress is increasing. As human beings we need to connect and engage with others in a positive way to stay mentally and physically healthy. Employees want to hear a leader’s vision for how to respond to the crisis, and they also want to connect at a personal level. Video-enabled “town halls” offer a perfect opportunity for leaders to convey what’s on their mind to the broader organization and find out what is keeping everyone awake at night.

Putting integrative awareness into practice

As human beings, we can practice integrative awareness before, in, and after the moment. Beforehand, we can visualize the expected external event and our potential internal response. After the event, we can reflect and process the experience, let go of stress, and gain insight. In the moment, we can observe ourselves while having the experience and regulate our behavior at the same time.

Captain Chesley Sullenberger brought the process of integrative awareness alive when he landed his commercial plane in the Hudson River in 2009. After a bird strike cut both engines of his commercial flight soon after takeoff, Captain Sullenberger demonstrated the ability to stay calm while facing fear. Instead of returning to the airport as air traffic controllers were advising, he paused and assessed that he couldn’t make it, landing instead in the river and saving the lives of all on board. The balancing of emotions with a rational and deliberate thought process is something scientists call metacognition.

By practicing internal awareness on two levels (having the experience and observing it at the same time), you can catch early signals of distress, doubt, or fear without acting out a stress response. This is especially critical in times of crisis. While we can never be purely objective, we can try to reach that state as much as possible. Without objective awareness, signals of distress can trigger “survival” behavior, and we lose the ability to pause, reflect, and decide. For a leader during crisis, this survival state can present a huge risk, and in the case of Captain Sullenberger, it would have been fatal.

In a crisis, some leaders react to complex problems with polarizing opinions, quick fixes, false promises, or overly simplistic answers, often combined with a command-and-control leadership style. They lose their ability to be in dialogue, to continuously adapt, and to look for novel solutions. In a situation where their experience falls short, but without the ability to practice integrative awareness, they may be guided by their fear and resort to habitual responses, often unconsciously biased, to unfamiliar problems.

Another risk of not being aware of our internal world is found in “sacrifice syndrome”: leaders who face constant pressure do not find time to take care of themselves, leading to reduced effectiveness and exhaustion.

The Dutch minister for medical care, Bruno Bruins, showed this danger when he collapsed in Parliament in mid-March during a debate on the coronavirus. Bruins said he was suffering from exhaustion after weeks of nonstop crisis management, and later decided to quit his post.


Six steps for leaders

Here are six practices that leaders can follow to develop their integrative awareness. While they may seem straightforward and commonsensical, too often leaders don’t follow them, thinking they’ll worry about themselves after the crisis has passed. That won’t work in the current context.

1. Adapt your personal operating model

Your priorities, your roles, your time, and your energy are all elements of the way you operate on a daily basis. Create an operating model that can act as your compass, especially in a crisis that is expected to last for some time. As the coronavirus emerged as a threat, we saw that many leaders went into overdrive, working around the clock to respond effectively. It was only after some time had passed that most started to build more of a structure into their lives.

Ask yourself: How does your personal operating model align with the changes in your work life right now? What does this mean for how you operate with your direct leadership team? What does this mean for how you engage with your family? What are your “non-negotiables” in this model (for example, sufficient sleep, regular exercise, meditation practice, and healthy food)?

2. Set your intention

Take a few minutes at the start of the day to go through your agenda, identify high-stakes topics, and set an intention for what you want to accomplish and how you want the experience to unfold. Many people do this as a visualization exercise, like a Formula One driver imagining driving the circuit before a race. This enables you to predict “emotional hot spots” and provides a bulwark against reactive thinking. What challenges, curveballs or brutal facts might you have to face, and what possible opportunities can you expect? How do you intend to stay focused on what matters most? How do you intend to react emotionally? What are your non-negotiables and where can you give ground? Also reflect on the outcomes and experiences for others. How will your actions affect other people?

3. Regulate your reactions

While in a stressful situation during the day, observe your emotions so you can recognize the stress response, taking a pause to assess the situation and engage your “rational mind” before choosing how to respond.

Let’s say you are asked a question on a town-hall videoconference about a matter you had not prepared for. What do you do when fear takes over and your nervous system starts to react? The most natural (and counterproductive) reaction is to try to avoid the issue. But even if you pause very briefly to take in the atmosphere, you can respond effectively.

One leader recounted a situation in which she was passionately telling her top team where they needed to go but was met with confusion and resistance. Her immediate reaction was to explain again in a louder voice. Becoming aware of her irritation and shortness of breath, she took a long pause then told her team, “OK, I feel a bit desperate here—I think I know where to go but it’s clear I am not effective. I need your help.” Only then did the group begin to think through the problem with her.

Another executive told us about a helpful defusion technique he uses. If he is in a meeting and checks his phone to find negative voicemails or emails he can’t attend to right then, he tends to become distracted and anxious. So he visualizes a parking lot (or a cupboard, or balloons in the air). Each incoming message goes into one of the parking spaces or shelves or balloons. He imagines acknowledging the messages with a plan to address them later. That way he can focus on the meeting and avoid experiencing mental and physical stress in the moment. He then returns to each topic, addressing them one by one. At that point, some urgent matters have already solved themselves, and others can be calmly addressed.

4. Practice reflection

Reflection is a way to process what happened during the day and to create space to listen to your inner world (mind and body). For example, analogous to a practice in the military called “contemplation,” you can reflect daily about critical situations. What moments were difficult and why, how did you feel, and why did you respond the way you did? Reflection helps you with the big picture and your own reactive behavior and its drivers. It’s also helpful to ask trusted colleagues to give you feedback about critical moments where you had to respond under pressure. What are your blind spots and how can you address them the next time? People have many ways to reflect. Some use meditation, some reflect while running or walking the dog. The important thing is that you make it a regular planned practice.

5. Reframe your perspective

When we’re tired from stress, we tend to see negative messages and threats more readily than opportunities and positive messages. Keeping a balance and staying realistic is not easy. Knowing this, is step one. Handling these situations effectively, is step two. When facing a difficult situation, try to redirect away from the negative explanation and toward an exploration of other possibilities that could be true. Viewing the issue through different possibilities and scenarios—from the most positive to the most negative—can help in planning responses later.

When detailed scenario planning is not an option, choose to take a flexible perspective: this is integrative awareness in action. When faced with a difficult situation, ask yourself: Am I jumping to conclusions too fast? What else can be true at this moment? What is important to me and my team right now? With the information on the table now, make a conscious decision about the best way to move toward what matters most. Build time to revisit decisions regularly, with an open, curious, and learning mindset, building on fresh information coming in and at different stages in the crisis.

6. Manage your energy

One of the most difficult things to do in times of crisis is to balance work needs with your own physical well-being. In a crisis atmosphere, you will need recovery time, or at some point something will give—performance or, worse, health. Top athletes know this, and they make sure they build in sufficient time for recovery when they train for top performance. Apart from recovery time, which may be different for everyone, micro practices that are in support of healthy recovery can include meditation, breathing exercises, cardio sports activities, and even power naps.


From thinking about the next normal to making it work: What to stop, start, and accelerate

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete on May 16th, 2020 by admin

What’s next? That is the question everyone is asking. The future is not what we thought it would be only a few short months ago.

In a previous article, we discussed seven broad ideas that we thought would shape the global economy as it struggled to define the next normal. In this one, we set out seven actions that have come up repeatedly in our discussions with business leaders around the world. In each case, we discuss which attitudes or practices businesses should stop, which they should start, and which they should accelerate.

1. From ‘sleeping at the office’ to effective remote working

Stop assuming that the old ways will come back

In fact, this isn’t much of a problem. Most executives we have spoken to have been pleased at how well the sudden increase in remote working has gone. At the same time, there is some nostalgia for the “good old days,” circa January 2020, when it was easy to bump into people at the coffee room. Those days are gone. There is also the risk, however, that companies will rely too much on remote working. In the United States, more than 70 percent of jobs can’t be done offsite. Remote work isn’t a panacea for today’s workplace challenges, such as training, unemployment, and productivity loss.

Start thinking through how to organize work for a distributed workforce

Remote working is about more than giving people a laptop. Some of the rhythms of office life can’t be recreated. But the norms associated with traditional work—for example, that once you left the office, the workday was basically done—are important. As one CEO told us, “It’s not so much working from home; rather, it’s really sleeping at the office.”

For working from home to be sustainable, companies need to help their staff create those boundaries: the kind of interaction that used to take place in the hallway can be taken care of with a quick phone call, not a videoconference. It may also help to set “office hours” for particular groups, share tips on how to track time, and announce that there is no expectation that emails will be answered after a certain hour.

Accelerate best practices around collaboration, flexibility, inclusion, and accountability

Collaboration, flexibility, inclusion, and accountability are things organizations have been thinking about for years, with some progress. But the massive change associated with the coronavirus could and should accelerate changes that foster these values.

Office life is well defined. The conference room is in use, or it isn’t. The boss sits here; the tech people have a burrow down the hall. And there are also useful informal actions. Networks can form spontaneously (albeit these can also comprise closed circuits, keeping people out), and there is on-the-spot accountability when supervisors can keep an eye from across the room. It’s worth trying to build similar informal interactions. TED Conferences, the conference organizer and webcaster, has established virtual spaces so that while people are separate, they aren’t alone. A software company, Zapier, sets up random video pairings so that people who can’t bump into each other in the hallway might nonetheless get to know each other.

There is some evidence that data-based, at-a-distance personnel assessments bear a closer relation to employees’ contributions than do traditional ones, which tend to favor visibility. Transitioning toward such systems could contribute to building a more diverse, more capable, and happier workforce. Remote working, for example, means no commuting, which can make work more accessible for people with disabilities; the flexibility associated with the practice can be particularly helpful for single parents and caregivers. Moreover, remote working means companies can draw on a much wider talent pool.

2. From lines and silos to networks and teamwork

Stop relying on traditional organizational structures

“We used to have all these meetings,” a CEO recently told us. “There would be people from different functions, all defending their territory. We’d spend two hours together, and nothing got decided. Now, all of those have been cancelled—and things didn’t fall apart.” It was a revelation—and a common one. Instead, the company put together teams to deal with COVID-19-related problems. Operating with a defined mission, a sense of urgency, and only the necessary personnel at the table, people set aside the turf battles and moved quickly to solve problems, relying on expertise rather than rank.

Start locking in practices that speed up decision making and execution during the crisis

The all-hands-on-deck ethos of a pandemic can’t last. But there are ways to institutionalize what works—and the benefits can be substantial. During and after the 2008 financial crisis, companies that were in the top fifth in performance were about 20 percentage points ahead of their peers. Eight years later, their lead had grown to 150 percentage points. The lesson: those who move earlier, faster, and more decisively do best.

Accelerate the transition to agility

We define “agility” as the ability to reconfigure strategy, structure, processes, people, and technology quickly toward value-creating and value-protecting opportunities. In a 2017 McKinsey survey, agile units performed significantly better than those who weren’t agile, but only a minority of organizations were actually performing agile transformations. Many more have been forced to do so because of the current crisis—and have seen positive results.

Agile companies are more decentralized and depend less on top-down, command-and-control decision making. They create agile teams, which are allowed to make most day-to-day decisions; senior leaders still make the big-bet ones that can make or break a company. Agile teams aren’t out-of-control teams: accountability, in the form of tracking and measuring precisely stated outcomes, is as much a part of their responsibilities as flexibility is. The overarching idea is for the right people to be in position to make and execute decisions.

One principle is that the flatter decision-making structures many companies have adopted in crisis mode are faster and more flexible than traditional ones. Many routine decisions that used to go up the chain of command are being decided much lower in the hierarchy, to good effect. For example, a financial information company saw that its traditional sources were losing their value as COVID-19 deepened. It formed a small team to define company priorities—on a single sheet of paper—and come up with new kinds of data, which it shared more often with its clients. The story illustrates the new organization paradigm: empowerment and speed, even—or especially—when information is patchy.

Another is to think of ecosystems (that is, how all the parts fit together) rather than separate units. Companies with healthy ecosystems of suppliers, partners, vendors, and committed customers can find ways to work together during and after times of crisis because those are relationships built on trust, not only transactions.

Finally, agility is just a word if it isn’t grounded in the discipline of data. Companies need to create or accelerate their analytics capabilities to provide the basis for answers—and, perhaps as important, allow them to ask the right questions. This also requires reskilling employees to take advantage of those capabilities: an organization that is always learning is always improving.

3. From just-in-time to just-in-time and just-in-case supply chains

Stop optimizing supply chains based on individual component cost and depending on a single supply source for critical materials

The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the vulnerability of the old supply-chain model, with companies finding their operations abruptly halted because a single factory had to shut down. Companies learned the hard way that individual transaction costs don’t matter nearly as much as end-to-end value optimization—an idea that includes resilience and efficiency, as well as cost. The argument for more flexible and shorter supply chains has been building for years. In 2004, an article in the McKinsey Quarterly noted that it can be better to ship goods “500 feet in 24 hours [rather than] shipping them 5,000 miles across logistical and political boundaries in 25 days … offshoring often isn’t the right strategy for companies whose competitive advantage comes from speed and a track record of reliability.”  

Start redesigning supply chains to optimize resilience and speed

Instead of asking whether to onshore or offshore production, the starting point should be the question, “How can we forge a supply chain that creates the most value?” That will often lead to an answer that involves neither offshoring nor onshoring but rather “multishoring”—and with it, the reduction of risk by avoiding being dependent on any single source of supply.

Speed still matters, particularly in areas in which consumer preferences change quickly. Yet even in fashion, in which that is very much the case, the need for greater resilience is clear. In a survey conducted in cooperation with Sourcing Journal subscribers, McKinsey found that most fashion-sourcing executives reported that their suppliers wouldn’t be able to deliver all their orders for the second quarter of 2020. To get faster means adopting new digital-planning and supplier-risk-management tools to create greater visibility and capacity, capability, inventory, demand, and risk across the value chain. Doing so enables companies to react well to changes in supply or demand conditions.

One area of vulnerability the current crisis has revealed is that many companies didn’t know the suppliers their own suppliers were using and thus were unable to manage critical elements of their value chains. Companies should know where their most critical components come from. On that basis, they can evaluate the level of risk and decide what to do, using rigorous scenario planning and bottom-up estimates of inventory and demand. Contractors should be required to show that they have risk plans (including knowing the performance, financial, and compliance record of all their subcontractors, as well as their capacity and inventories) in place.

Accelerate ‘nextshoring’ and the use of advanced technologies

In some critical areas, governments or customers may be willing to pay for excess capacity and inventories, moving away from just-in-time production. In most cases, however, we expect companies to concentrate on creating more flexible supply chains that can also operate on a just-in-case approach. Think of it as “nextshoring” for the next normal.

For example, the fashion industry expects to shift some sourcing from China to other Asian countries, Central America, and Eastern Europe. Japanese carmakers and Korean electronics companies were considering similar actions before the coronavirus outbreak. The state-owned Development Bank of Japan is planning to subsidize companies’ relocation back to Japan, and some Western countries, including France, are looking to build up domestic industries for critical products, such as pharmaceuticals. Localizing supply chains and creating more collaborative relationships with critical suppliers—for example, by helping them build their digital capabilities or share freight capacity—are other ways to build long-term resilience and flexibility.

Nextshoring in manufacturing is about two things. The first is to define whether production is best placed near customers to meet local needs and accommodate variations in demand. The second is to define what needs to be done near innovative supply bases to keep up with technological change. Nextshoring is about understanding how manufacturing is changing (in the use of digitization and automation, in particular) and building the trained workforce, external partnerships, and management muscle to deliver on that potential. It is about accelerating the use of flexible robotics, additive manufacturing, and other technologies to create capabilities that can shift output levels and product mixes at reasonable cost. It isn’t about optimizing labor costs, which are usually a much smaller factor—and sometimes all but irrelevant.

4. From managing for the short term to capitalism for the long term

Stop quarterly earnings estimates

Because of the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, the percentage of companies providing earnings guidance has fallen sharply—and that’s a good thing. The arguments against quarterly earnings guidance are well known, including that they create the wrong incentives by rewarding companies for doing harmful things, such as deferring capital investment and offering massive discounts that boost sales to make the revenue numbers but hurt a company’s pricing strategy.

Taking such actions may stave off a quick hit to the stock price. But while short-term investors account for the majority of trades—and often seem to dominate earnings calls and internet chatrooms—in fact, seven of ten shares in US companies are owned by long-term investors. By definition, this group, which we call “intrinsic investors”—look well beyond any given quarter, and deeper than such quick fixes. Moreover, they have far greater influence on a company’s share price over time than the short-term investors who place such stock in earnings guidance.

Moreover, the conventional wisdom that missing an estimate means immediate retribution is not always true. A McKinsey analysis found that in 40 percent of the cases, the share prices of companies that missed their consensus earnings estimates actually rose. Finally, an analysis of 615 US public companies from 2001 to 2015 found that those characterized as “long-term oriented” outperformed their peers in earnings, revenue growth, and market capitalization. Even as a way of protecting equity value, then, earnings guidance is a flawed tool. And, of course, there can be no bad headlines about missed estimates if there are no estimates to miss.

Along the same lines, stop assuming that pursuing shareholder value is the only goal. Yes, businesses have fundamental responsibilities to make money and to reward their investors for the risks they take. But executives and workers are also citizens, parents, and neighbors, and those parts of their lives don’t stop when they clock in. In 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis, former McKinsey managing partner Dominic Barton argued that there is no “inherent tension between creating value and serving the interests of employees, suppliers, customers, creditors, communities, and the environment. Indeed, thoughtful advocates of value maximization have always insisted that it is long-term value that has to be maximized.” 2 We agree, and since then, evidence has accumulated that businesses with clear values that work to be good citizens create superior value for shareholders over the long run.

Start focusing on leadership and working with partners to create a better future

McKinsey research defines the “long term” as five to seven years: the period it takes to start and build a sustainable business. That period isn’t that long. As the current crisis proves, huge changes can take place in much shorter time frames.

One implication is that boards, in particular, should start to think about just how fast, and when, to replace their CEOs. The average tenure of a CEO at a large-cap company is now about five years, down from ten years in 1995. A recent Harvard Business Review study of the world’s top CEOs found that their average tenure was 15 years. 3 One critical factor: close and constant communication with their boards allowed them to get through a rough patch and go on to lead long-term success.

Like Adam Smith, we believe in the “invisible hand”—the idea that self-interest plus the network of information (such as the price signal) that helps economies work efficiently are essential to creating prosperity. But Adam Smith also considered the rule of law essential and saw the goal of wealth creation as creating happiness: “What improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” 4 A more recent economist, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, updated the idea for the 21st century, stating that the invisible hand of the market needs to be balanced by the visible hand of good governance.

Given the trillions of dollars and other kinds of support that governments are providing, governments are going to be deeply embedded in the private sector. That isn’t an argument for overregulation, protectionism, or general officiousness—things that both Smith and Sen disdained. It is a statement of fact that business needs to work ever more closely with governments on issues such as training, digitization, and sustainability.

Accelerate the reallocation of resources and infrastructure investment

Business leaders love words like “flexible,” “agile,” and “innovative.” But a look at their budgets shows that “inertia” should probably get more attention. Year to year, companies only reallocate 2 to 3 percent of their budgets. But those that do more—on the order of 8 to 10 percent—create more value. In the coronavirus era, the case for change makes itself. In other areas, companies can use this sense of urgency to change the way they put together their budgets. Sales teams, for example, are used to getting new targets based on the prior year’s results. A better approach is to define the possible, based on metrics such as market size, current market share, sales-force size, and how competitive the market is. On that basis, a company can estimate sales potential and budget accordingly.

In previous economic transitions, infrastructure meant things such as roads and pipelines. In democratic societies, governments generally drew up the plans and established safety and other regulations, and the private sector did the actual building. Something similar needs to happen now, in two areas. One is the irresistible rise of digital technologies. Those without access to reliable broadband are being left out of a sizable and surging segment of the economy; there is a clear case for creating a robust, universal broadband infrastructure.

The second has to do with the workforce. In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as much as a third of workplace activities could be automated by 2030. To avoid social upheaval—more high-wage jobs but fewer middle-class ones—displaced workers need to be retrained so that they can find and succeed in the new jobs that will emerge. The needs, then, are for more midcareer job training and more effective on-the-job training. For workers, as well as businesses, agility is going to be a core skill—one that current systems, mostly designed for a different era, aren’t very good at.

5. From making trade-offs to embedding sustainability

Stop thinking of environmental management as a compliance issue

Environmental management is a core management and financial issue. Lloyds Bank, the British insurer, estimated that sea-level rises in New York increased insured losses from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 by 30 percent; a different study found that the number of British properties at risk of significant flooding could double by 2035. Ignore these and similar warnings—about cyclones or extreme heat, for example—and watch your insurance bills rise, as they did in Canada after wildfires in 2016. Investors are noticing too. In Larry Fink’s most recent letter to CEOS, the BlackRock CEO put it bluntly: “Climate risk is investment risk.” 5 He noted that investors are asking how they should modify their portfolios to incorporate climate risk and are reassessing risk and asset values on that basis.

Start considering environmental strategy as a source of resilience and competitive advantage

The COVID-19 pandemic froze supply chains around the world, including shutting down much of the United States’ meat production. Rising climate hazards could lead to similar shocks to global supply chains and food security. In some parts of Brazil, the usual two-crop growing season may eventually only yield a single crop.

As companies reengineer their supply chains for resilience, they also need to consider environmental factors—for example, is a region already prone to flooding likely to become more so as temperatures rise? One of the insights of a McKinsey climate analysis published in January is that climate risks are unevenly distributed, with some areas already close to physical and biological tipping points. Where that is the case, companies may need to think about how to mitigate the possible harm or perhaps going elsewhere. The principle to remember is that it is less expensive to prepare than to repair or retrofit. In January 2018, the National Institute for Building Sciences estimated spending $1 to build resilient infrastructure saved $6 in future costs. 6 To cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have shortened their supply chains, switched to more videoconferencing, and introduced new production processes. Consider how these and other practices might be continued; they can help make companies more environmentally sustainable, as well as more efficient.

Second, it makes sense to start thinking about the possible similarities between the coronavirus crisis and long-term climate change. The pandemic has created simultaneous shocks to supply chains, consumer demand, and the energy sector; it has hit the poor harder; and it has created serious knock-on effects. The same is likely to be true for climate change. Moreover, rising temperatures could also increase the toll of contagious diseases. It could be argued, then, that mitigating climate change is as much a global public-health issue as dealing with COVID-19 is.

The coronavirus crisis has been a sudden shock that essentially hit the world all at once—what we call “contagion risk.” Climate change is on a different time frame; the dangers are building (“accumulation risk”). In each case, however, resilience and collaboration are essential.

Accelerate investment in innovation, partnerships, and reporting

As usual, information is the foundation for action. A data-driven approach can illuminate the relative costs of maintaining an asset, adapting it—for example, by building perimeter walls or adding a backup power supply—or investing in a new one. It is as true for the environment as any part of the value chain that what gets measured gets managed. This entails creating sound, sophisticated climate-risk assessments; there is no generally accepted standard at the moment, but there are several works in progress, such as the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.

The principle at work is to make climate management a core corporate capability, using all the management tools, such as analytics and agile teams, that are applied to other critical tasks. The benefits can be substantial. One study found that companies that reduced their climate-change-related emissions delivered better returns on equity—not because their emissions were lower, but because they became generally more efficient. The correlation between going green and high-quality operations is strong, with numerous examples of companies (including Hilton, PepsiCo, and Procter & Gamble), setting targets to reduce use of natural resources and ending up saving significant sums of money.

It’s true that, given the scale of the climate challenge, no single company is going to make the difference. That is a reason for effort, not inaction. Partnerships directed at cracking high-cost-energy alternatives, such as hydrogen and carbon capture, are one example. Voluntary efforts to raise the corporate game as a whole, such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, are another.

6. From online commerce to a contact-free economy

Stop thinking of the contactless economy as something that will happen down the line

The switch to contactless operations can happen fast. Healthcare is the outstanding example here. For as long as there has been modern healthcare, the norm has been for patients to travel to an office to see a doctor or nurse. We recognize the value of having personal relationships with healthcare professionals. But it is possible to have the best of both worlds—staff with more time to deal with urgent needs and patients getting high-quality care.

In Britain, less than 1 percent of initial medical consultations took place via video link in 2019; under lockdown, 100 percent are occurring remotely. In another example, a leading US retailer in 2019 wanted to launch a curbside-delivery business; its plan envisioned taking 18 months. During the lockdown, it went live in less than a week—allowing it to serve its customers while maintaining the livelihoods of its workforce. Online banking interactions have risen to 90 percent during the crisis, from 10 percent, with no drop-off in quality and an increase in compliance while providing a customer experience that isn’t just about online banking. In our own work, we have replaced on-site ethnographic field study with digital diaries and video walk-throughs. This is also true for B2B applications—and not just in tech. In construction, people can monitor automated earth-moving equipment from miles away.

Start planning how to lock in and scale the crisis-era changes

It is hard to believe that Britain would go back to its previous doctor–patient model. The same is likely true for education. With even the world’s most elite universities turning to remote learning, the previously common disdain for such practices has diminished sharply. There will always be a place for the lecture hall and the tutorial, but there is a huge opportunity here to evaluate what works, identify what doesn’t, and bring more high-quality education to more people more affordably and more easily. Manufacturers also have had to institute new practices to keep their workers at work but apart—for example, by organizing workers into self-contained pods, with shift handovers done virtually; staggering production schedules to ensure that physically close lines run at different times; and by training specialists to do quality-assurance work virtually. These have all been emergency measures. Using digital-twin simulation—a virtual way to test operations—can help define which should be continued, for safety and productivity reasons, as the crisis lessens.

Accelerate the transition of digitization and automation

“Digital transformation” was a buzz phrase prior to the coronavirus crisis. Since then, it has become a reality in many cases—and a necessity for all. The consumer sector has, in many cases, moved fast. When the coronavirus hit China, Starbucks shut down 80 percent of its stores. But it introduced the “Contactless Starbucks Experience” in those that stayed open and is now rolling it out more widely. Car manufacturers in Asia have developed virtual show rooms where consumers can browse the latest models; these are now becoming part of what they see as a new beginning-to-end digital journey. Airlines and car-rental companies are also developing contactless consumer journeys.

The bigger opportunity, however, may be in B2B applications, particularly in regard to manufacturing, where physical distancing can be challenging. In the recent past, there was some skepticism about applying the Internet of Things (IoT) to industry. Now, many industrial companies have embraced IoT to devise safety strategies, improve collaboration with suppliers, manage inventory, optimize procurement, and maintain equipment. Such solutions, all of which can be done remotely, can help industrial companies adjust to the next normal by reducing costs, enabling physical distancing, and creating more flexible operations. The application of advanced analytics can help companies get a sense of their customers’ needs without having to walk the factory floor; it can also enable contactless delivery.

7. From simply returning to returning and reimagining

Stop seeing the return as a destination

The return after the pandemic will be a gradual process rather than one determined by government publicizing a date and declaring “open for business.” The stages will vary, depending on the sector, but only rarely will companies be able to flip a switch and reopen. There are four areas to focus on: recovering revenue, rebuilding operations, rethinking the organization, and accelerating the adoption of digital solutions. In each case, speed will be important. Getting there means creating a step-by-step, deliberate process.

Start imagining the business as it should be in the next normal

For retail and entertainment venues, physical distancing may become a fact of life, requiring the redesign of space and new business models. For offices, the planning will be about retaining the positives associated with remote working. For manufacturing, it will be about reconfiguring production lines and processes. For many services, it will be about reaching consumers unused to online interaction or unable to access it. For transport, it will be about reassuring travelers that they won’t get sick getting from point A to point B. In all cases, the once-routine person-to-person dynamics will change.

Accelerate digitization

Call it “Industry 4.0” or the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Whatever the term, the fact is that there is a new and fast-improving set of digital and analytic tools that can reduce the costs of operations while fostering flexibility. Digitization was, of course, already occurring before the COVID-19 crisis but not universally. A survey in October 2018 found that 85 percent of respondents wanted their operations to be mostly or entirely digital but only 18 percent actually were. Companies that accelerate these efforts fast and intelligently, will see benefits in productivity, quality, and end-customer connectivity. And the rewards could be huge—as much as $3.7 trillion in value worldwide by 2025.

McKinsey and the World Economic Forum have identified 44 digital leaders, or “lighthouses,” in advanced manufacturing. These companies created whole new operating systems around their digital capabilities. They developed new use cases for these technologies, and they applied them across business processes and management systems while reskilling their workforce through virtual reality, digital learning, and games. The lighthouse companies are more apt to create partnerships with suppliers, customers, and businesses in related industries. Their emphasis is on learning, connectivity, and problem solving—capabilities that are always in demand and that have far-reaching effects.

Not every company can be a lighthouse. But all companies can create a plan that illuminates what needs to be done (and by whom) to reach a stated goal, guarantee the resources to get there, train employees in digital tools and cybersecurity, and bring leadership to bear. To get out of “pilot purgatory”—the common fate of most digital-transformation efforts prior to the COVID-19 crisis—means not doing the same thing the same way but instead focusing on outcomes (not favored technologies), learning through experience, and building an ecosystem of tech providers.

Businesses around the world have rapidly adapted to the pandemic. There has been little hand-wringing and much more leaning in to the task at hand. For those who think and hope things will basically go back to the way they were: stop. They won’t. It is better to accept the reality that the future isn’t what it used to be and start to think about how to make it work.

Hope and optimism can take a hammering when times are hard. To accelerate the road to recovery, leaders need to instill a spirit both of purpose and of optimism and to make the case that even an uncertain future can, with effort, be a better one.

Source:, May 15, 2020
Authors: Kevin Sneader, the global managing partner of McKinsey, is based in McKinsey’s Hong Kong office; Shubham Singhal, the global leader of the Healthcare Systems & Services Practice, is a senior partner in the Detroit office.

Livet efter coronan …

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Digitalisering / Internet, Leadership / Ledarskap on May 13th, 2020 by admin

Hur blir livet efter coronan?

Många ställer sig idag den frågan. Tillåt mig på detta tema ett par personliga spaningar:

Affärsresandet blir aldrig som förr
I april reste 98% färre resenärer från Swedavias 10 flygplatser än motsvarande period förra året.
Jag, med så många andra, börjar ifrågasätta vårt tidigare resande. Tänk så många gångar jag (du?) tagit flyget till t.ex. Landvetter, Sturup, London eller Munchen för ett möte. Ofta har vi inte ens lämnat flygplatsen utan genomfört våra möten i en av alla dessa konferensrum som numera finns på alla världens flygplatser.

Coronatiden (ännu bara ett par månader) har snabbt tvingat oss till att hantera våra möten digitalt. Och se vad som hänt! Vips fungerar det alldeles utmärkt!

Visst, inte blir det riktigt lika bra som när vi träffas rent fysiskt. Men, handen på hjärtat, håll med om att det fungerar ”good enough”? Och det speciellt om vi tar följande i beaktande:
– Tidsvinsten (faktisk restid inklusive transporter till och från flyget). För att inte tala om all tid
för logistiken på flygplatsen (in-checkning, security …). Boring!
– Klimateffekterna

Sedan blir det ju knepigare ju fler som skall delta i det digitala mötet. Men väg återigen de samlade tidsvinsterna samt den reducerade klimatpåverkan och ”good enough” gör sig påmind.

Jag såg att en digital framtidsforskare uppskattade att den digitala utveckling som sker under ”coronatiden” med största säkerhet skulle ha tagit oss 6-10 år utan de påtvingade coronaeffekterna.


Ökad effektivitet  o c h  mer egen tid

En av mina uppdragsgivare samlade förra veckan företagsledningen för att diskutera hur man skall hantera synen på ”distansarbete” efter corona. ”Vi har redan märkt hur väl många anpassat sig till arbete (hel eller delvis) hemifrån. Och de positiva effekter det skapat. Vi ser det som helt orealistiskt att vi kommer tillbaka till det ”normala kontorsarbetet” igen. Lika bra att börja anpassningen redan nu”.

Deras diskussion bygger i stort på följande:
– 45% av stockholmarna anger att man jobbar heltid hemifrån i dessa tider. Lägger man till de
personer som också säger att de jobbar 50 procent eller mer hemifrån är den siffran hela 65
– Forskning tyder på att man vid hemarbete klarar av 8 timmars kontoret normalt kontorsarbete      på endast 4-5 timmar! Dock arbetar de flesta minst sina 8 timmar, även på hemkontoret. Resultatet? Ökad effektivitet och produktivitet!
Exempelvis anger nästan var tredje person inom sektorn bank och finans (28 procent) att de jobbar mer än tidigare.
– Många har idag långa och tidskrävande transporter till och från jobbet.
En chef berättade att han  normalt sett har 90 minuters restid till och från jobbet varje dag. Den tiden spar han nu in. ”Jag kan nu logga ut från datorn och en minut senare spela boll med
mina två söner. Fantastiskt! I alla fall ett par tre dagar i veckan. För jag tror (ännu) inte på att helt flytta hem kontoret”.
Det är för övrigt en uppfattning som inte delas av Twitters VD Jack Dorsey som häromdagen berättade att en del av företagets anställda aldrig kommer att gå tillbaka till kontoret utan istället arbeta hemifrån.

Och så kärnfrågan – har coronakrisen bidragit till en digital mognad som gör att fler kommer att
kunna, och vilja,  jobba hemifrån även när pandemin lagt sig? Det är i alla fall 40 procent som säger att de kommer att jobba mer på distans även i framtiden.

Det här var bara ett par av mina högst personliga spaningar vad gäller tiden efter coronan.
Rätt eller fel? Det kommer framtiden att utvisa.
Med vad som, oavsett utfall, kommer att visa sig vara rätt är att du som ledare redan nu måste öka din lyhördhet för hur medarbetarna ser på sin framtida arbets- och livssituation och hur ni skall skapa förutsättningar för högsta möjliga produktivitet och effektivitet. Det kommer att behövas!
Och vilka förändrade krav kommer detta att ställa på ditt ledarskap? För det kommer att krävas!


Dags att lämna förnekelsefasen – ekonomin blir aldrig densamma

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on May 9th, 2020 by admin

Världsekonomin efter corona!

Den beska sanningen om kriser är denna: Ekonomin återhämtar sig aldrig helt.

Efter covid-19 kan stora delar av världen tvingas sänka sina förväntningar på levnadsstandard och välfärd. Det är hög tid för politikerna att berätta det.

”Omfamna verkligheten”. När det amerikanska storföretaget General Electrics vd Larry Culp redogjorde för bolagets strategi efter corona stod en sak högst upp på listan: krisinsikt. Att linda in dåliga nyheter i sockervadd är bara kontraproduktivt, enligt GE-chefen.

Men så har Larry Culp redan tvingats tugga i sig fler obekväma fakta än de flesta under sina 18 månader på jobbet.

Världen skulle må bra av att följa hans exempel.

I corona-krisen tycks många vara kvar i förnekelsestadiet.

April blev den bästa månaden på New York-börsen på 82 år. S&P 500 handlas nu över nivån för ett år sedan, i Stockholm har index backat 2 procent.

Viljan att vissla i mörkret och tänka positiva tankar är lätt att förstå.

Vidden av det som skett de senaste två månaderna är svårt att ta in.

Häromdagen ramlade det in en minimalt uppmärksammad TT-notis. Det var FN-organet ILO som varnade för att 1,6 miljarder människor i den informella ekonomin nu riskerar att förlora sina inkomster och kastas ut i fattigdom. Det är halva världens arbetsstyrka.

Covid-19 har redan påverkat våra liv i grunden; hur vi umgås, reser, arbetar. Till och med språket befinner sig i kris. Inom ekonomijournalistiken är det inte ovanligt med rubrikord som ”krasch” eller ”chocksiffra”.

Men vad ska man då kalla en nedgång på över 300 procent (!) på en dag, som för oljan nyligen? Eller att 33 miljoner blir arbetslösa på några veckor som i USA?

Det är som att tvingas live-kommentera en trafikolycka. Alla ord ligger liksom fel i munnen.

Bakom börsspekulanternasglada miner ligger de extrema stimulanser som centralbankerna lanserat men också en prognos om att världsekonomin kommer att vända upp i raketfart efter corona-nedstängningen.

Låt oss hoppas att det är rätt. Men Goldman Sachs konstaterar i en analys att corona-krisen i så fall skulle skilja sig från alla tidigare lågkonjunkturer där tillväxten brukar bli dämpad i flera år.

Och att döma av de signaler som nu kommer ser hoppet om en snabb återhämtning ut som önsketänkande.

I USA har flera delstater börjat öppna.Wall Street Journal rapporterar från South Carolina som lättade på restriktionerna den 20 april. Där visar det sig att människor fortsätter vara försiktiga. Analys av trafikmönster visar ingen större uppgång jämfört med då regionen befann sig under ”lock-down”.

Enligt en enkät gjord av Ipsos 16-19 april var två tredjedelar av befolkningen orolig för att röra sig ute även om affärerna var öppna, och 59 procent ansåg att allt borde vara stängt tills dess att viruset var helt under kontroll.

Även ekonomisk osäkerhet dämpar konsumtionen, arbetslösheten i South Carolina uppskattas redan till mellan 10 och 15 procent, enligt WSJ.

Liknande tecken kommer från Sverige som ju inte ens haft i närheten av lika strikta restriktioner. Måndagens varselsiffror visade att även industri- och transportföretag börjat säga upp personal, något som skvallrar om planering inför en mer utdragen nedgång.

Visst ska vi fortsätta hoppas på mirakulös uppgång där ekonomin återgår till det normala.

Problemet: inte ens det räcker för att undvika en ordentlig smäll.

Riksbankschefen Stefan Ingves brukar säga att den stora lärdomen av finansiella kriser är att ekonomin aldrig repar sig. BNP kan visserligen hämta in stora hack i kurvan men återgår aldrig till samma trend som tidigare. Riksbanken har räknat ut att om svensk ekonomi hade följt tillväxtbanan sedan 1950-talet och sluppit nedgångarna på 1990-talet och 2008 hade BNP i dag varit bortåt 1.000 miljarder kronor högre eller 100.000 kronor per svensk.

En studie från Federal Reserve visade att finanskrisen sänkt USA:s BNP långsiktigt med 12 procentenheter vilket motsvarar en livsinkomst på 700.000 kronor för varje amerikan.

Att bara extrapolera tillväxtkurvor är förstås vanskligt eftersom uppgången före en nedgång kan visa sig bero på överhettning, men även justerat för detta har finanskrisen kostat 3 procentenheter av BNP i den rika världen och 6 procent i de länder som upplevde en bankkris, enligt en studie från OECD.

Här kommer det jobbiga: Recessionen efter coronakrisen ser ut att bli betydligt djupare än under finanskrisen.

Internationella Valutafonden IMF spår att global BNP faller med 3 procent 2020. Det ska jämföras med -0,1 procent 2009. Nästa år spås ekonomin växa med 5,8 procent men trots detta räknar IMF med att motsvarande 90.000 miljarder i BNP faller bort jämfört med tidigare prognoser, mer än Japan och Tyskland tillsammans, enligt IMF.

I nio av tio länder kommer invånarnas inkomster att sjunka.

Det är ändå ett hyfsat optimistiskt scenario som bygger på att pandemin ebbar ut under andra halvåret. Annars väntar kraftiga BNP-fall även 2021.

Under decenniet efter 2008, då vi hade de lägsta räntor som människan skådat på 5.000 år, var ett gyllene tillfälle att börja fasa ut världsekonomins beroende av ständigt stigande skuldsättning.

Det blev tvärtom. Mellan 2008 och 2019 steg världens skulder med 87.000 miljarder dollar eller 40 procent av BNP, enligt International Institute of Finance. Den totala skuldsättningen slog 2019 nytt rekord med 322 procent av BNP.

Lite förenklat kompenserade alltså världen för den förlorade tillväxten efter 2008 med att låna.

Den som skulle förklara det för en grupp mellanstadieelever skulle kanske ha sagt att många vuxna valde att göra av med pengar de inte hade.

Den som påpekat det föga moraliska eller hållbara i denna ordning har kallats domedagsprofet.

En sak är klar: den här gången blir tricket betydligt svårare att göra om.

Den förra krisen innebar att riskerna lämpades över från privat till offentlig sektor. 2020 bjuder på en repris men i mycket större skala.

Financial Times citerar en analys som visar att de finanspolitiska insatserna i västvärlden redan motsvarar 6 procent av BNP, dubbelt så mycket som 2008. Politikerna har öst ut skattepengar som om det inte fanns en morgondag. Tråkig grej: det finns det.

Enligt IMF kommer USA:s statsskuld stiga från 105 till 122 procent av BNP i år. Tidigare sågs 90 procent av BNP som en smärtgräns, nu spås hela västvärlden nå 120 procent av BNP i snitt enligt IMF. Världens skulder kommer i år växa till 342 procent av BNP, enligt IIF.

Tidningen The Economist konstaterar att försöka få statsbudgetar att gå ihop kan bli den största utmaningen i post-coronavärlden.

Det betyder att varje krona som spenderas i dag kan komma att ställas mot neddragningar i välfärden om några år. Något att fundera på när enorma summor av allmänna medel nu pumpas in i företag utan krav på motprestation.

Det är en verklighet som politikerna av naturliga skäl talat tyst om hittills. Nu är en bra tid att börja.

Men kanske har de folkvalda fått uppfattningen att pengar är något som finns i obegränsad mängd. Det vore i och för sig inte så konstigt med tanke på att det är den bild centralbankerna gärna sprider.

Federal Reserves balansräkning spås växa till 11.000 miljarder dollar motsvarande halva USA:s BNP, långt över nivåerna efter 30-talskrisen och andra världskriget. Att även dessa institutioner tar risker i skattebetalarnas namn verkar ha glömts bort.

Men allt är inte elände.Krisen kan leda till en del lärdomar som kan bli värdefulla inför framtiden.

Financial Times kolumnist Martin Wolf skriver att det som tycks ha präglat världsekonomin under lång tid är strävan efter att bedriva kapitalism med så lite riskbärande kapital som möjligt. Coronakrisen visar att den privata sektorns incitament att belåna sig måste minska, samtidigt som den offentliga sektorn bör sluta förlita sig på skuldsättning för att skapa efterfrågan, enligt Martin Wolf.

Men dit är det långt. Och vägen blir tuff.

2013 intervjuade undertecknad professor Kenneth Rogoff som studerat 800 års historia av finanskriser. På frågan om vad som oroade honom mest inför framtiden svarade han så här:

”Att vi har ett stabilt samhälle som är vant vid tillväxt. Vad händer om vi måste leva i en period med mycket lägre tillväxt? Det är lätt att se en rad problem framför sig när vi börjar bråka om fördelningen av resurser, som radikalisering och instabilitet.”

Det var alltså efter krisen 2008 som Kenneth Rogoff nyligen beskrivit som ett mindre genrep inför den verkliga kraschen 2020, ”alla krisers moder” för att använda hans egna ord.

Att det lätt kan bli grinigt när krympande resurser ska fördelas är inte så konstigt. Desto viktigare att det uppfattas som om att alla statliga räddningsinsatser kommer alla till del. Dit är det också en bit.

USA:s förre arbetsmarknadsminister Robert Reich skriver på Twitter att under den period som landet befunnit sig i ”lock-down” och miljoner amerikaner blivit arbetslösa har landets miljardärer blivit 2.800 miljarder kronor rikare.

Det är en verklighet som ganska många nog har svårt att ge en stor varm kram.

Källa:, 9 maj 2020

”Slakta heliga kor” – säljproffsets sex tips för att krissäkra affärerna

Posted in Aktuellt, Customer care / Kundvård, Försäljning / Sales on May 8th, 2020 by admin

Krisens effekter på ekonomin är brutala, men för många företag finns fortsatt goda chanser att öka sin försäljning – trots att marknaden skakar.
Det hävdar entreprenören Johan Åberg, vd för företaget Next State som hjälper bolag att få fart på affärerna.
”Slakta heliga kor” och ”krisanpassa erbjudandet” är några av hans bästa strategier.

1. Testa nya kundsegment
Kristid är ett bra läge att dra igång utvecklingsarbete som inte hunnit prioriteras när verksamheten snurrade på för fullt – som att testa nya kundsegment, säger Johan Åberg, grundare av företaget Next State och författare till boken ”Megadeals” som Di skrev om förra året.

”Håll koll på vilka som köper och koncentrera resurserna annorlunda än tidigare – din marknad är troligtvis förändrad. Om du hör av dig till många potentiella kunder och adderar värde kommer du att få nya kunder, så enkelt är det.”

2. Krisanpassa erbjudandet
Med större osäkerhet ökar behovet av trygghet, riskminimering och av att skydda det man har. Den insikten kan bli avgörande för att fortsätta vara relevant för kunderna, säger han vidare.

”Om ni i högkonjunktur är som en förbättrande vitamin, bör ni nu ställa om till att vara en huvudvärkstablett som lindrar smärtan. Det gäller att förstå varför kunderna har ont och hitta en lösning. Det är en väg till att lyckas.”

3. Var närvarande i kundrelationerna
Även om företaget behöver få in nya kunder är det viktigt att inte ta de trogna kunderna, som fortfarande köper, för givet. Var närvarande och uppmärksam i de befintliga relationerna – det kommer att stärka försäljningen, säger Johan Åberg.

”Nu när risken gått upp baserar sig affärer ännu mer på förtroende och tillit. Där det redan finns ett förtroendekapital ökar hastigheten i försäljningen eftersom kunderna värderar stabilitet högre än nya erbjudanden från någon oprövad.”

4. Slakta heliga kor – prioritera kanaler som fungerar
Det är vanligt att jobba traditionellt när man säljer och marknadsför. För att klara nedgången gäller det att våga pröva nya metoder och kanaler – särskilt om de gamla, till exempel försäljning på mässor, inte längre fungerar, säger Johan Åberg.

”Jag har jobbat med kunder som kämpat med gravt förändringsobenägna säljavdelningar. Treårsplanen kan till exempel behöva ersättas av en kvartalsplan. Har man till exempel inte använt sig av ‘social selling’ eller ‘content marketing’ tidigare kan det vara läge att testa det. Den typen av marknadsföring blir ännu viktigare nu när man inte längre kan träffa kunderna fysiskt.”

5. Bygg emotionell styrka
Den största utmaningen, enligt Johan Åberg, är att peppa sig själv och medarbetarna till att testa nya metoder som man tidigare dragit sig för och till att jobba hårdare, men till ett sämre resultat.

”Du behöver en daglig ritual som hjälper dig och ditt team att bygga emotionell styrka”, säger han.

”Kolleger kan ha fått sparken eller vara permitterade och den attraktiva framtiden som man var peppad på är borta. Då behöver man bygga upp den igen – det gör man bland annat genom ordval och ton i språket.”

Hur då?
”Det är stor skillnad mellan att säga ‘jag ska försöka höra av mig till kunderna‘ och ‘jag ska se till att vi når vår budget’. Det ena signalerar att man inte ska ha för stora förhoppningar”, säger han.

”Har man fel inställning kan det vara kört. Därför vill jag utmana alla att tänka ut en möjlighet som kan göra företaget, eller Sverige, lite starkare varje gång man känner att det går åt helvete.”

6. Ta hjälp och undvik rabattfällan
I princip alla företagare som når stor framgång har någon form av mentor, rådgivare eller bollplank, menar Johan Åberg. När mycket står på spel är det viktigare än någonsin att inte vara ensam.

Vidare är han emot att ge bort tjänster gratis eller rabattera ned priset kraftigt i hopp om att kunderna ska betala fullpris när krisen är över.

”Risken är att man får in kunder som tycker gratis är gott. Då är det bättre att bjuda på något som ger extra värde när kunderna väl har bestämt sig och bevisat sin betalningsvilja.”

Källa:, 8 maj 2020