COVID-19 creates a moment of truth for corporate culture. Cultural change is essential in this era of pandemics and business transformation. It is the invisible glue that holds the organisational organism together. It is also a large amorphous cloud, which gets its shape from beliefs, norms, values and behaviour.
How does this amorphous entity change? How will it need to change for 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) to be positively effective? What role will COVID-19 play a role in influencing companies to change, and what will that mean for existing 4IR programmes?
There are enablers for large scale change. One of them is business continuity management (BCM). How does this link culture, risk, technology, and change?
Making right decisions during a crisis
Focusing on your company’s purpose and values will help you make the right decisions during this crisis.
Leaders are rightly asking themselves: Are our choices and actions right now reflecting our culture and the purpose and values that define us?
What an organisation does at scale, basically is ‘brand integrity’, it is glued together, without falling apart, by its culture. What it says and does at scale will be tested by crises such as COVID-19.
Risk and culture
Research tells us that among the values exhibited by strong cultures are collaboration, agility, integrity, people-centricity, innovation, accountability, and ambition.
According to Bain, companies that exhibit a winning culture, that have a strong internal compass and inspire their employees, are 3.7 times more likely to be business performance leaders.
‘Risk’ is the other internal cohesiveness factor that keeps companies from falling apart. It has some key enablers in its modern manifestations, which is guided by the ISO standards and Coso Framework (Coso 2017).
One of these is BCM. It is a step-by-step process that enables both risk and cultural change, through techniques from continuous improvement disciplines.
It is going to be more useful for work-streams in how programme managers must execute, in keeping the entity integral, in the face of COVID-19 and business transformations.
Both risk and cultural change are enabled by experts in change management. However, they each have their own procedures which need to be adapted for remote working, which is emerging as a new normal.
HR, BCM, change and risk are all drawn together by stakeholder engagement, and management protocols all of which allow for communications processes.
In order for ‘risk’ as a discipline to be effective in modern organisations, there needs to be a ‘culture’ of risk, that is implemented (COSO2017). And further, in relation to this, modern cultures that do not incorporate or anticipate risk, will not survive in the new normal epoch characterised by pandemics.
Business continuity management
Is one of the enablers of risk cultural change. BCM is a sub-discipline of enterprise risk management. Its methods are strung together through the fabric of continuous improvement’, an applied management framework.
Another enabler of culture change is communications. Effective communication strategies take cognisance of the employer brand proposition.
In so doing it links up the internal and external image of the company. This is often managed by the corporate affairs department, however there is an emerging need for communications specialists in internal departments such as HR and risk.
The messages that get to staff through internal communications channels, set the tone for the right behaviour that needs to happen during a cultural change.
HR specialists galvanise the process. Internally an OD specialist will process people performance in a person-centric context.
Others will re-design the job architecture or map out the how the pay structures should reflect a new type of performance model.
Technology and 4IR
Technology is another enabler; however, it is guided by decisions, from people, on the basis of investments, efficiency and ethics.
Programme managers have increasingly to adapt to interdisciplinary cultures, as we leave the great edifice structures behind.
Behaviour change is the end point for a lot of these strategic and operational processes. Essentially, management need people to change the way they do things in order for the company to change the way it is perceived both internally and externally.
Behaviour change is difficult, but essential, and therefore, requires experts with interdisciplinary understanding, to manifest it in reality.
Ultimately the board, and all employees, are interested in market growth and ‘retention’, both of staff and of clients. As we enter into the world of COVID-19, there will be change. That change will have to be enabled by certain skilled people, and certain key processes.