A Case for People-Centered Emergence from the Pandemic
Covid-19, politics of the crisis aside, is a human tragedy of immense proportions. For all the talk about economies being flattened, at its core, it is a much more personal issue to everyone. Organizations have been hit from a business, business model and operating model perspective. Old taboos (work from home and office presence) have given way to new models of hybrid working.
The crisis is yet to blow over completely. While we wait for vaccinations to do their work, business restart is a real thing and adapting to the new realities comes with its own challenges. There has been a lot of talk about how the restart would be driven by a ‘digital-first’ ideology. While that has its own benefits, the year that was has shown us that people continue to be the key resource driving economies. This might be a good time to adopt people-first methodologies, philosophies and ideologies.
Covid-19 and the subsequent restart might be the moment of truth or ultimate use case for human-centered design and design thinking itself. With limited knowledge about what the future holds, an agile, strategic and operating model that keeps learning, adapting and evolving might be the best insurance any enterprise, conglomerates in particular, have against failure. The design thinking continuum of Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype & Test could (should?) be the five elements of every plan: strategic, operational or digital.
Nimble and agile operating models that embrace emerging technologies, while factoring in the worst case business scenarios for crisis management, are essential. Bulletproofing your strategic plans start with having a clear focus on the internal and external end user. Ensuring ease of use, simplicity of design language and speed to market will keep some of the intransigent risks at bay. Start ups can build ground up with these elements while larger established conglomerates need to seek small incremental changes that cascade over time.
Every interface with a human, starting from IT infrastructure (ERP, CRM, SCM, HRMS) to sales, marketing, manufacturing and hiring need to evolve. Of particular importance are the Sales and Hiring functions. These are the two functions where most organizations connect with the broader business ecosystem. If the philosophies change here, the cascading effect is real and has the ability to impact the ecosystem at large.
It is about time that enterprises, large or small, put people (internal or external) at the center and communicate a language of empathetic dynamism in their strategic initiatives. It is time to innovate on products, services or internal processes like there is no tomorrow. It is time to focus on a simple design language that values the end-user.