This is also a time for leadership. Those tasked with driving a company through this have dug deep into their professional and personal resources to maintain business continuity and to keep the companies they represent strong.
This is a time for collaboration and innovation. A new book by Orange Business Services CEO Helmut Reisinger is timely as it brings together 11 leaders from international organizations to discuss and share their visions and experience on the subject of business transformation.
In Impactful Transformations, stories of successful change, Helmut presents a collaborative piece of work based on the prerequisites to successful transformation, from the point of view of these 11 visionaries. It may have been conceived and produced prior to this international crisis and the emergence of the "new normal," but the messages the book conveys are even more relevant than ever.
During the crisis, the collaboration between Orange Business Services and our customers has only served to strengthen our trust in digital transformation to produce positive business outcomes. The crisis has similarly helped convince our customers, leading organizations from around the world, that digital transformation is essential to future-proofing. Companies have seen that the maturity of their digital transformation is central to their resilience in the face of enforced change and crisis.
Helmut Reisinger, an expert in digital transformation, notes that:
Business transformation is nothing new. Businesses have always needed to adapt or initiate change through innovation. What Joseph Schumpeter called 'creative destruction' is in fact one of the drivers of business transformation.
Helmut Reisinger, CEO, Orange Business Services
Creative destruction is a term that can be applied to the COVID-19 crisis. It has been destructive, changing habits and routines and forcing organizations to be creative to maintain business continuity.
Reading through the book, you find many quotes that feel like they were written during the crisis rather than before. For instance, this from Vincent Bedouin, Managing Director of Lacroix Group (France), applies perfectly to the reality of the current situation.
"The transformation of a business must be grounded in reality, not based on an idealistic approach." (p.143)
Reality can change. And it did during the first half of this year, radically and swiftly. This presented business leaders with a landscape that itself has transformed, and to which they and their organizations must adapt. In order to survive and thrive in a radically changed business environment, great vision needs to be backed up with a bold and yet realistic plan. As Anneka Gupta, President of LiveRamp (United States), said: "the challenge of a leader is to put vision into action…Translating this vision into concrete action, in order to realize the value embodied by his vision, constitutes the real challenge faced by any leader." (p.175)
Despite working from offices being swept away overnight, the crisis has created a feeling of togetherness and solidarity in communities – and some businesses have also successfully instilled such a sense of common purpose within their organizations.
As Dr. Detlef Trefzger, CEO of Kuehne + Nagel International (Switzerland), says:
"The key question is how the management team and I can impact our business. People are generally reluctant to join a project of which they are neither convinced nor proud. So you have to inspire your staff and be passionate. More importantly: involve your employees." (p.135)
Organizations have found themselves pushed to the brink by COVID-19, and some may not be able to adapt to the new normal. To adapt means to change, and again the words of Yves Daccord, CEO of the International Committee of the Red Cross (Switzerland), seem to be tailor-made for these times: "I don't believe in change for the sake of change; nor do I believe that transformation is just a buzzword. Rather, I think that change and transformation are a matter of survival." (p.104)
On the subject of change, the words of Phillip Bradley, Executive Managing Director, GHD Group (Australia), yet again fits the present situation perfectly: "Personally, I like to emphasize the non-linear aspect of transformation. Change may be inevitable, but transformation involves choosing another path or skipping one or more stages of its evolution."
What emerges from the pages of this book, where visionaries share their knowledge and experience of transformation, is how relevant their words of wisdom and advice are to the challenges of doing business in the world since COVID-19. The message is clear: properly managed digital transformation has prepared organizations well and helped them cope with an extraordinary situation. The secrets of the leaders revealed in this book are now even more relevant than ever before.
Helmut Reisinger invites eleven leaders from around the world, who have successfully transformed their businesses, to share their thoughts and solutions.