McKinsey senior partner Mary Meaney joins IBM CEO Arvind Krishna and Unilever CHRO Leena Nair to discuss how companies can organize for the next normal.
Imagine a world in which companies are defined by their ability to inspire, foster collaboration, and create experiences for employees and customers that are simple, meaningful, and enjoyable. Sound like some impossible, distant dimension? It’s not. All this—and more—is beginning to take place right now inside organizations that are leveraging these challenging and uncertain times to reinvent, reshape, and reimagine how they operate.
Talk to any business leader anywhere in the world, and one thing becomes abundantly clear: No one would have chosen this pandemic as a catalytic event. Yet, here it is, and this very reality is acting as an “unfreezing” moment, says Mary Meaney, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company and leader of the firm’s global organization practice. “There are huge learnings that are emerging from the pandemic,” she says. “Leaders have seen that their companies have been able to operate at an unimaginable pace and with so much resilience and creativity. Now they’re asking, ‘How do we hardwire these behaviors into the organization so that we are stronger in the years ahead?’”
The stakes requiring a new way of operating could not be higher. Consider that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be created. McKinsey research also shows:
Eighty-two percent of employees report that it’s important for their organization to have a purpose, but only 42 percent say their company’s purpose statement had much effect.
Contributing to society and creating meaningful work are the top two priorities of employees, yet they are the focus of just 21 percent and 11 percent of purpose statements, respectively.
Clearly, there’s a disconnect. But the companies that are bridging this gap, Meaney says, are the ones reimagining their organizations in the midst of COVID-19 by addressing three core questions:
Who are we? Do we have a compelling, standout identity that attracts and inspires employees, investors, clients, and partners? Do we convey why we exist through a resonant purpose, a strong value agenda, and our unique culture?
How do we operate? Do we have a nimble, flat operating model in place that fosters teamwork and rapid decision making, and that values and develops talent throughout the organization—not just at the top?
How do we grow? Do we have a robust ecosystem that values internal and external partners, leverages data-rich tech platforms, and is committed to doing whatever it takes to create and maintain a continuous learning atmosphere?
“Leaders have seen that their companies have been able to operate at an unimaginable pace and with so much resilience and creativity. Now they’re asking, ‘How do we hardwire these behaviors into the organization so that we are stronger in the years ahead?’ Mary Meaney, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company
The companies that are doing it right—the ones that are going to thrive in the Next Normal—have fast and flexible operating models underpinned by an unshakeable sense of purpose. Instead of control and hierarchy, they cultivate collaboration and teamwork. It’s what Bill Kozy, corporate advisor and former COO of Becton Dickinson, calls “purpose on steroids.” These are the companies with leaders who are “taking the time to provide meaningful targeted communication to their organization,” he says. “This is not a pep talk. It’s about linking the purpose of the organization to activities taking place right now that are impacting not only the company but the society in which it operates.”
The businesses profiled below are taking bold steps to reimagine their organizations—and the way they exist in the world—to reflect a new reality. They’re unleashing the inherent power of their workforce by addressing these three core questions and, in the process, are finding new ways to create, partner, experiment, and innovate. Read more
To executives expecting to save on office space when some employees continue working remotely post-pandemic: Not so fast.
What comes next with regard to the new office will be a global experiment like we’ve never seen. The successes will come from organizations with leaders who are thoughtful and deliberate.
When it comes to flexibility, executives are often worried that they’ll open Pandora’s box and set a dangerous precedent if they allow some employees to work flexibly. They worry that if they let a few employees work from home, then the office will always be empty and no one will be working.