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Charting the course for a different and better future

March 30, 2021 | BY Seema Desai

Charting the course for a different and better future

2020 will probably go down in the history as the most unpredictable year mankind has witnessed yet. During this time, the world underwent critical transformations on societal, environmental, and economic levels, responding to the waves of change both voluntarily and involuntarily.

However difficult it may be to find the silver lining to the trials of 2020, we also saw the individuals and institutions come together and rise to the challenges the year posed. This fast-tracked many transformations years ahead of their time and brought forth the possibilities of a new world.

Reclaiming our future in this new world will involve piecing together the realizations brought on by 2020 and building upon these insights in the unique context of each industry, business, and function.

Importance of thinking differently but together

The past year underlined the importance of agile behavioral tuning at an institutional level to tackle the emerging, fast-evolving situations and environments. Realigning teams and processes for better efficiency, agility, and collaboration in this period required rallying people for a common purpose through the reinforcement of core organizational values and culture.

This cultural alignment with people at the core, paved a way for innovative thinking and culminated in greater energy, initiative, creativity, and collaboration.

Organizations that have aimed to implement transformation initiatives benefited from focusing on this reinforcement of values for the holistic success of the organization, people, and the business ecosystem.

Finding a sure footing

In the times when it is easy to get disoriented in the constantly altering landscape, analyzing where you are and where you are headed brings in a contextual perspective for the way forward.

During the last year, we observed fundamental shifts in businesses’ relevance to their ecosystem. These rapid changes brought forth the need to introspect our efficacy in the current model and map out the action plan it would take to live up to the expectations of stakeholders across the business ecosystem.

Our brainstorming put forth some key aspects to be taken forward:

  • Reevaluating our current position in the larger ecosystem
  • Measuring the relevance of business against the new context
  • Assessing agility to meet the expectations
  • Identifying further opportunities for collaboration, partnership, and inclusion to effectively mobilize people
  • Realigning priorities to support the vision

A groundswell of acceptance of the current state and the need to change for the better would be key to building better resilience and adaptability in the coming months, in addition to laying a robust foundation for the vision.

The bigger picture is not a luxury but a necessity

While it may be hard to see the bigger picture when fighting battles on multiple fronts, it may be exactly the solution one needs.

During the pandemic, organizations had to do some fast calculations to survive the most severe economic slowdown since the Great Depression. Advancements like a wider adoption of collaboration technologies enabled both short-term and long-term advantages. But in most cases, it also resulted in the underutilization of opportunities these technologies had to offer. Leveraging the full potential of technology to build upon such temporary fixes and mobilizing value-driven transformations—with data at the heart of it all—will be a prerequisite to growing in the post-pandemic world.

At the same time, it’s important to understand that technology is a tool, which without a strategy, may not be as effective as its real potential.

Keeping an eye on the bigger picture will help drive a purpose-led change, which can be broken down into logical change lets, making the outcomes clear and unambiguous while leaving some room for innovation and experimentation along the way.

Some crucial findings we came across while ensuring successful transformations for our clients:

  • Transformation without a clear vision is most likely to result in scattered impact, costly missteps, and unpredicted outcomes. Successful transformations in this period had leaders clearly outlining the goals and backing them with a precise execution roadmap while they mobilized resources and investments for transformations.
  • Assessing the preparedness of the organization is vital to achieving the outlined goals. The transformation-readiness of an organization depends on various factors like its size, infrastructure, governance and compliance requirements, decision-making processes, adequacy of skilled technical resources, and most importantly, its cultural compatibility to the planned transformations.

Before undergoing transformation, it is essential to assess how the process will impact customers and business in the interim period and to plan for contingencies. This gives room for experimentation and innovation without disrupting essential business functions.

Most of the successful transformations have one thing in common: They may not be fast but they’re strategic and steady in the approach that governs them.

Enabling greater empowerment of people

During the early weeks of the pandemic, Bitwise underwent a swift transition to a remote working model which was previously unapplied due to various concerns ranging from functionality to security to effective collaboration.

The shift was incredibly successful and we observed that our people had ensured that our customers were served efficiently despite the overwhelming crisis. There was no business loss and people were even more united in the spirit of collaboration and endurance.

The pandemic impacted people on physical, emotional, financial, and societal levels. During the utter ambiguity of the last year, people looked up to social, governmental, and organizational leaders to show them how to move forward and create a reinforced value system that not only offered a safe physical environment but also promoted an inclusive and empathetic culture.

Building upon this spirit of togetherness and empathy will be paramount in the coming days and it means technologically and culturally empowering people for inclusive value creation.

During the competency scanning and rebuilding initiatives at Bitwise in 2020, we focused our efforts on four brand pillars to strengthen the value systems:

  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Confidence
  • Passion

During these initiatives, we saw a great increase in conversations, responsiveness, and cross-functional collaboration as well as a considerable shortening of learning curves in most places.

We also observed that a holistic approach towards even greater empowerment of people is necessary to ensure a successful cultural change that drives the business vision:

  • Enabling a robust framework for empowerment: Building a collaborative system that elevates people and equips them with tools, methods, and insights, goes a long way in empowering and mobilizing them. This eventually becomes the foundation for a thriving, purpose-driven ecosystem that helps promote better engagement with your employees, partners, and vendors for the agile value creation process.
  • Promoting a culture of communication, trust, and transparency: For most organizations, greater success is possible by increasing focus on how their people perceive them and how much they believe in their organization’s vision and value statements. This is a critical juncture where organizations can move away from traditional siloed decision-making approaches and towards transparent, data-driven, and autonomous decision-making networks that foster better communication, accountability, self-discipline, and innovation.  
    Reinforcing accountability with trust to embrace creative problem-solving approaches is another important aspect that plays a crucial role in accelerating the intended change and reducing the status quo.
  • Strengthening a transparent reward and recognition system: Before a business creates value for its customers and community, it is incumbent upon the business to create it for its employees who are the key interfaces for further value generation. This is where businesses can make a substantial positive difference by creating a system that emphasizes continuous learning, upskilling, reskilling, recognition, and rewards.

    Traditional employee satisfaction paradigms are much less relevant now, where employees are looking for a closer alignment of perspectives and a meaningful relationship with their organization. Ensuring these relationships through a more cohesive approach towards employee satisfaction is much likely to lead to purpose-led change with its importance permeating across all interactions.

Also, inspiring genuine and meaningful relationships with employees through an ongoing dialogue about their needs, responsibilities, and challenges greatly contributes to building an empowering culture with communication at the heart of it.

Inertia may be natural but not useful 

Uncertain times make organizational inertia worse (as the tendency to wait and watch overwhelms all other cues of action). The growingly volatile markets, uncertain economies, and sociopolitical conditions can make organizational leaders wary of change and that halts many essential transformations an organization may be capable of undergoing.

Organizations can fight inertia internally and externally by taking an incremental and iterative approach towards transformation and focusing on becoming agile and responsive to the evolving needs of their people, customers, partners, and the rest of the ecosystem.

During the 2020 crisis, we stumbled upon the common factors that were inducing decision-making inertia across different sectors and possible measures to address them:

  • Analyzing organizational silos and their role in decision making 
  • Identifying functions that can evolve and contribute to even larger evolution 
  • Promoting clarity of vision across all stakeholders  
  • Rallying innovation as the cultural phenomenon
  • Fixing communication gaps  
  • Having regular checkpoints for course correction and reaffirmation of the common purpose 

Be it tweaking existing business processes to cater to evolving business needs or investing in better customer journeys, it’s essential to ensure that you start from a vantage point you’re comfortable at. 

Reimagining customer-centricity will help

Before COVID-19, organizations operated under very different social and economic assumptions. That changed quite suddenly in 2020, giving a new dynamic to customer experience and posing the need for a holistic approach.

As per a Global Digital Report by Datareportal, by the start of 2020, approx. 4.5 billion people—nearly 60% of the world population—were already using the internet and this was before the pandemic pushed the world to adopt digital means of collaboration, payment, and many other essential functions.

Traditional definitions of being customer-centric were challenged on many levels and it presented the opportunity for an in-depth re-evaluation of customer needs, expectations, preferences, perceptions, value systems, experience, and convenience. The most crucial aspect of this evaluation will be to relook at organizational processes to see how they aid and focus on customer experience and to make them absolutely customer-centric and lean, with no overheads on teams serving customers. The processes that do not meet these criteria will need to be retired or transformed.

In addition to fine-tuning business processes, there is more to reimagining customer-centricity:

  • Acknowledging and understanding how customers’ needs are evolving 
  • Constantly enhancing offerings to stay relevant 
  • Becoming agile and hyper-responsive to their needs and behaviors 
  • Banking upon deeper connotations of the consumer-brand relationships 
  • Leveraging a data-driven approach for reliable customer insights 
  • Enabling a scalable system of response with embedded insights
  • Promoting the functions that help create a single view of the customer 

Constantly keeping pace with the changing dynamics of customer experience will be key to both customer retention and acquisition in the coming days.

Keep the finger on the changing pulse of the world

2021 has arrived with new possibilities and a greater resolve grounded in the firm realization that change is the constant. And it’s credit to industry leaders who stepped up and flexed their keen sense of social and economic awareness to take evolutionary steps.  

In the coming months, leaders will have an even more crucial role in the organization’s trajectory to become more agile, relevant, and value-driven. They will be the ones to foster a responsive organizational culture of cross-functional collaboration between people driven by a common purpose.

Given the steadily recovering economies and markets, there is great hope that bouncing back and realigning for success doesn’t have to be a herculean task. A wider and well-translated realization of the need to match the pace of changing landscape around us will be key to achieving real momentum in the coming days, with a brighter future on the horizon.

Seema Desai


Seema is passionate about people, processes, and technology. Her leadership philosophy is hinged on a simple principle-“Details create the big picture”. Seema’s passion for technology and human behavior and ability to embed them as core ingredients of vision/strategy has steered Bitwise’s growth over the years in a humane, win-for-all manner.

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