The Crisis Is Here

At the time of writing this, the #Coronavirus pandemic has already claimed more than 1 Million deaths and infected more than 54 Million people, worldwide. Countless lives (and livelihoods) have already been affected by the #Covid19 virus, and most of the year 2020 has really been all about dealing with the crises.

Could we have done more?

Yes, having virtual meetings using a video-calling service like Zoom or Teams is now the de facto way we work. But the way we conduct these meetings is broken, and adds to the strain of hard-working #WFH employees.

Yes, students now attend virtual classes using a mobile device (or two) coupled with a home broadband connection. But, not every child has access to this kind of infrastructure, on demand.

Yes, governments in every country have been working overtime to balance the health and safety of their citizens with the needs of the economy. But, the best way forward is still elusive.

The testing is not standardized, the protocols are not uniform across countries, the economic constraints are not the same from one region to another. And, when the vaccine comes, there will be added pressure on governments to find the right way to distribute it among the population at large.

We could have learnt from each other, instead of reinventing the wheel. We could have joined forces, instead of fighting our battles like a divided people

Technology giants could have combined efforts to help enable infrastructure for children who need to attend online classes. Large corporations could have re-imagined ways of working that are more conducive to virtual/remote presence. Politicians could have learned from politicians (and scientists) in other countries, what really works and what doesn’t.

Instead, some of us got busy coping with the demands of work-from-home, while others used the time to learn some new recipes, enroll in a few certificate courses or see more cat videos online.

Remember those end-of-the-world movies in which the Earth is facing a global crisis of epic proportions, and a coalition force (led by America) finally saves the day?! Hollywood writers would have us believe that when it really came down to it, the citizens of the world would unite to fight a common enemy, and ultimately triumph.

Well, that crisis is here. And, it’s not too late to take corrective action.

Or, is it?

Designing Processes That Work

When you start designing a process, what do you aim for?

You might think the answer is obvious, but it’s not. A process can try to be the most efficient at what it’s doing (speed/time/cost), or robust enough to handle exceptions with grace (think: moments of truth), or just be a “process” – a set of rules, where none existed before.

The tradeoffs we choose, matter…

A text message might be the best solution for one situation because it’s instant, easily digestible, cheap and convenient.

However, a hand-written thank-you note on high-quality paper, FedEx’ed overnight from the other side of the world is way more effective than an email because of the discretionary effort and expense involved.

… But most improvements are neither efficient enough to be noticeably more effortless than alternatives, nor inefficient in a way that conveys discretionary effort, thoughtfulness or attention to detail.

Matt Watkinson, LinkedIn

I’ve seen many organizations put words like ‘Customer First’ in their Vision and Values posters. Some even commit resources to the CX function, by staffing up a team dedicated to improving Customer Experience, and then asking them to lead a bunch of initiatives. But, when it comes down to it, most enterprises lack a clear understanding of what it means to do right by the customer.

And, unless that clarity informs the design of the processes inside, chances are the people that work there will only be able to do so much.

It’s not just CX – every function can benefit from doing this right. Here’s how you should ideally approach it…

Step 1 – Articulate clearly what you are trying to maximize for
Step 2 – Define when and how to deploy exception handling
Step 3 – Design your processes to accommodate both the above
Step 4 – Communicate this design to the people entrusted with delivery

Without it, a process is just another process.

With it, you get a powerful engine that helps you get closer to your goals.

Day 100 – Learning to Adapt

It is now 100 days since the #Covid19 lockdown first began in India.

A lot has happened since then…

We learned to #WFH, and to cope with the “new normal”.

We dealt with Technology challenges, and tried to find a quiet space in our homes – with a charging point nearby.

We coped with ever-changing rules and regulations in our cities, while running out of essentials in our neighbourhoods.

We managed year-end performance appraisals and organizational restructurings. And downsizings.

We learnt to celebrate our special occasions on Microsoft Teams and Zoom calls.

What most of us thought would only last weeks, is running well into the second-half of 2020.

But, we are coping. And learning. And thriving.

Yes, every situation is unique. Every city has its own problems. Every country is struggling to deal with the pandemic in its own ways.

Yes, the harshness (and necessity) of the #lockdown in India may not quite compare with that in Sweden or New Zealand.

But, we humans have an almost infinite capacity to adjust… and adapt.

So, we adapt, we must…

I am grateful to have a team at work that is committed and capable – it makes my day go a little bit easier.

I am grateful for the love and support of my family – it helps me keep the faith.