June 25, 2020

The Next Normal: Optimal Intersection of People, Technology & Service

Now is the time to accelerate innovation and digital capabilities, while seizing opportunities for future growth and reshaping a better, more inclusive world of work.

Fifteen global business leaders brought a powerhouse of industry perspectives, experiences and voices to a June 18, 2020 “Spark Talk” virtual event, entitled Global Paths to Rebound Summit: Innovation, Adaptability & Culture, jointly hosted by the Executive Next Practices Institute (ENP) and Worldwide ERC®. Several common themes were woven throughout the program, including an overwhelming consensus that now is the time to accelerate innovation and digital capabilities, seize opportunities for future growth and reshape a better, more inclusive world of work.

"It's about what’s next and not just what’s new.”

“Businesses continue to evolve naturally over time, and in some cases are forced to change in response to periodic shocks or ‘black swan’ events like this COVID-19 global pandemic,” noted Michael Brannigan, President and CEO of The Suddath Companies – Sterling Lexicon’s parent organization, “but it’s about what’s next and not just what’s new.” He set the stage for the “next normal” by emphasizing how now, more than ever, the seamless intersection of people, technology and service must be at the center of every business strategy. He shared one of the organization’s key guiding principles: to be the easiest and most reliable company to do business with – a goal that is achieved when that crucial intersection is reached.

people-technology-service-graphicWell before the current crisis hit, industries across every sector were experiencing significant disruption and the need for radical digital transformation to get to the next phase of innovation and growth. COVID-19 temporarily halted many business operations, but it accelerated The Suddath Companies’ investment in and development of enhanced technologies and platforms.

With the full support of the company’s owners and board members behind them, Brannigan and the team remained focused on not losing any time achieving an optimized digital experience for customers and employees alike – in spite of the challenges and obstacles of a global pandemic. What drives them is knowing that business is personal – one size does not fit all – and that the best experience is one in which users can easily consume information and resources in the ways that are most effective for them. With that inspiration, Sterling Lexicon is committed to achieving optimization by being present, responsive, and transparent across the spectrum of digital and personal solutions, delivered with the highest levels of service, passion and care.

The next normal calls for a strategic, adaptable framework.

A summit participant asked Brannigan how to adapt business planning to the current environment, and he shared an observation that resonated with all: gone are the days of the traditional 3- to 5-year plan when it’s challenging to conduct even a two-week forecast in the current environment. We still need frameworks and planning, but the next normal calls for a much more agile strategic approach.

Brannigan also volunteered that as he and the rest of the company’s leadership teams continue to develop an evolving framework, they are guided by an ARROW method:

  • ASSESSING what the true impact of the current situation is and how to address the deceleration of business as the economy continues to suffer.
  • Developing RESILIENCE to weather the storm by adapting to different ways to run the business, such as remote work wherever possible and giving team members the tools for success.
  • REIMAGINING the way the world moves, and re-thinking how we need to adjust our delivery and operations to meet new needs.
  • OPERATIONALIZING our strategy for safely returning to work and travel for our supply chain partners and staff.
  • WINNING together, by remaining close to the market and our clients and finding the solutions that help us all move forward.

In closing, Brannigan shared that, even though the extreme nature of a global pandemic is challenging us with new, fundamental changes to business and work, it’s also a time of tremendous opportunity, particularly for human resource leaders. We are learning about how the world of work is changing, and positive employee experiences and effective communication are critical to our understanding. Employees are both consumers of and ambassadors for their employer’s brands. Business leaders must look to employees in the same way as customers – for valuable insights, solutions that will make their experiences easier and better, and the building of long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. "We believe that change – particularly caused by this type of severe externality that has really impacted the global economy and our businesses – creates opportunity for those with a long-term horizon, a strong vision and strategy, and who are willing to make the investments necessary to support the changing business environment," noted Brannigan.

COVID-19 has fundamentally shifted employees’ abilities to do certain work, their expectations about how, where and when to work, and how they want to consume and engage with the overall work experience. Now is the time to rethink and rebuild a better, more efficient and inclusive environment for all. Chief people leaders are an integral part of the strategic development of the ideas and the delivery of solutions that will see us through this next normal.

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Kristin White

Kristin White

Kristin brings nearly 30 years of experience in global workforce mobility, PR, marketing, editorial planning and communications to her role as a member of the thought leadership and content development teams. Before joining the company in 2020, she worked for many years at Worldwide ERC® in collaboration with cross-departmental teams and industry stakeholders to develop in-person and virtual event programming, digital and print content, and served as editor of Mobility magazine. Contact Kristin at kristin.white@sterlinglexicon.com.

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