Change creates a disruptive opportunity to reimagine how our businesses respond.”
Shemara Wikramanayake, CEO, Macquarie Group
No one could have predicted the scale and impact of COVID-19. It is an extreme example of a disruptive change. Businesses are now contemplating the need to charter these complex and ambiguous conditions for the longer term – just as they need to prepare for the next unforeseen event.
This is the art of adaptation. It is not a one-off, full-scale, resource-intensive transformation. It is about testing new ideas and making incremental changes - solving small problems, frequently. It requires a mindset of learning and iterating: what is working, what isn’t and what else can we do differently to shift the dial for our people and our customers?
“When we’re thinking about adapting all the time and learning, it’s always just a series of steps of ‘just enough’ and never perfection,” explains agile consultant Alex Sloley, who supports Macquarie’s human centred design approach to innovation. “It just needs to be enough to get you to the next step.”
The impact of each experiment can build over time, compounding into a major shift – and, potentially, an improvement in financial performance. As the pandemic has demonstrated, time can be compressed by sheer necessity. Universal telehealth was considered years away, but more than 10 million telehealth consultations took place during the first two months of COVID-19 in Australia when Medicare funding was extended1. Adaptation has its own momentum.
The art of being adaptive requires a behaviour shift towards creativity and resilience, and needs to be consciously designed into business operations. The most extraordinary customer and employee experiences are intentional: they must become ritualistic to become part of the workflow. They also need to become embedded into the way employee performance is measured and rewarded.