The do’s and don’ts of succeeding in times of crisis

For business owners, the past five years have presented a series of once-in-a-generation crises.

Whether it is Covid-19, the energy crisis or the war in Ukraine, adaptability has become a core value and a condition for survival. When a crisis strikes, every business leader faces a choice: to focus on the fundamentals and adapt to the customer’s immediate needs or use the uncertainty as a time to innovate and disrupt the market.

As we emerge from the winter period, further uncertainty looms. With warnings of a global recession compounding, the economic forecasts remain uncertain. What, then, can businesses do to lock in their vision for success and innovate for the future? There is huge potential during times of volatility to be the making of a company, leading to a step function in growth that will endure when the crisis is a distant memory. From Amazon to Mailchimp, there are many examples of organisations that chose to use uncertainty to double down on their mission, accelerate innovation and build for the long-term.

LendInvest – an example of when catastrophe catalyses creativity

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, LendInvest was born. Seeing an opportunity to double down on its mission of simplifying property finance, the organisation used a problem to its advantage. The complexity of the global financial crash contrasted with LendInvest’s straightforward platform, which connected customers to short-term property financing. Instead of attempting to compete in various areas, LendInvest focussed on the steady and transparent innovation of their tech solution. By developing a tech stack that provides an experience matching the simplicity of its vision, the organisation proved that innovation does not need to come at the expense of core values.

Noticeably, LendInvest’s solution isn’t overly complex. Its attractiveness was and continues to be, based on its opposition to complexity. Today’s businesses need to consider that the intricacy of a solution does not need to match the convolution of the problem that demands it. Innovation, while often creative, can be about simplifying complex tasks and services.

Perfection isn’t the goal. Instead, what is often more important during times of difficulty is believing and committing to your vision, being quicker and more decisive than the competition, and embracing that failing fast is essential for success.

Moulding the talent landscape to your advantage

Times of instability don’t just impact business processes. Global crises have been punctuated by significant shifts in their staff’s working behaviours and patterns. Whether it is working from home, hybrid working, or the recent rise in ‘quiet quitting’, an organisation’s ongoing capacity for innovation will be inextricably linked to its ability to hire and retain effective staff or circumvent the need for it altogether.

The last few weeks have underlined the vulnerability of the current job market like never before. Mass lay-offs have swept across the tech landscape, including high-profile departures at Twitter, Meta and Amazon. This has prompted renewed debate on the future of work, with some suggesting the return of ‘hustle culture’ and the need for more focus on retaining a core of high-performance individuals – others have urged caution that ratcheting up pressure on staff just leads to “low quality output”.

There are a lot of varied and rapidly changing circumstances to consider when navigating the tech talent landscape. So, how do organisations create an innovative workforce in a competitive market that is so susceptible to change?

The answer: focus on a smaller number of high-impact individuals alongside technical innovation.

Markets continue on a path that will squeeze organisations’ budgets. Alongside this, workers do not remain at the same company for as long as they used to. To solve this, organisations need to develop processes that don’t rely on institutional knowledge, increase the number of processes that depend on AI, hyperautomation, and high-performance computing, and build training and hiring practices that can withstand the flexibility of long-term employment habits.

The answers are there; it’s simply a race to implement them

As previously mentioned, the secret to innovation and success in difficult times, like the year ahead, is not in perfection but speed. Gartner has stated that ‘hyperautomation has shifted from an option to a condition of survival.’ For many, the innovation needed to succeed has already been identified; it’s a question of who is willing to embrace it. To paraphrase George S. Patton, a good plan immediately executed is better than a perfect plan executed next week.

Utilising AI and automation is not antithetical to a human workforce but complementary to it. The current weight of the tech industry is too much for the tech workforce to bear. The issue is being tackled on both ends by focusing on hiring and developing capable employees and investing in the tools that allow them to succeed. All that is left is to focus on the organisational vision and fully commit to making it a reality.

About the Author

Brian Klingbeil is CSO at Ensono. Ensono is an expert technology adviser and managed service provider. As a relentless ally, we accelerate clients’ digital transformation to achieve business outcomes that stand to last. Our dedicated team helps organizations optimize today’s systems across any hybrid environment with services such as consulting, mainframe and application modernization, public cloud migration and cloud-native development. With certified experts in AWS, Azure and Google Cloud and recognized as Microsoft Datacenter Transformation Partner of the Year, Ensono has over 2,900 associates globally and is headquartered in greater Chicago.

Featured image: Gorodenkoff