Posted: 19 Jun. 2020 3 min.

What corona is teaching us: How to transform in 24 hours

Topic: Business Continuity & Financing

No testing. No preparation. All Danish companies went live with a new operating model on 12 March following our Prime Minister’s announcement of a country lock-down. In less than 24 hours – and with no planning whatsoever. Every individual, every company and the society at large transformed.

In a normal world, transformation takes planning, testing, implementation and a vast amount of time adopting to new systems, behaviours and sometimes creating a new culture. Just reflect on that for a second. What we were able to achieve in less than 24 hours is quite extraordinary. But then again, there was nothing ‘normal’ about COVID-19 and extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.

So, what can we learn from the corona lock-down? I believe there are many lessons to be learned – at society, business and individual levels.

As a society, Denmark excelled in managing the health perspective of the crisis with a fast lock-down and a very controlled reopening of our society. Lives were saved and the hospitals were not overloaded. From an economic perspective, the government worked together with other political parties, industry organisations, experts and business leaders to provide economic aid packages and funds to save Danish businesses. Needless to say, many businesses still struggle to recover from COVID-19, and entire industries are challenged, e.g. hotel and air traffic. They still need help – but the point is, everyone came together to respond to the crisis. Discussions that would normally take weeks, months or years resulted in overnight decisions. And consensus.

Climbing up the ladder of competitiveness
IMD recently published the annual competitiveness index, and Denmark takes a leap from no. 8 to no. 2 on competitiveness across 63 nations. The high ranking is a result of an efficient government (strong institutions and social security) as well as a highly-developed infrastructure (including technological infrastructure). That’s an amazing achievement by our country and also a testament to how well we handled the crisis. Arturo Bris, Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center and Professor of Finance, states: “The benefit of small economies in the current crisis comes from their ability to fight a pandemic and from their economic competitiveness. In part these may be fed by the fact it is easy to find social consensus.”

Another reason for the high competitiveness is our no. 1 position on business efficiency according to IMD. That brings me to the business perspective of the crisis. At Deloitte, we were able to transform our delivery model in 24 hours. What we could spend hours and weeks debating, we completely agreed on and were in alignment around in no time. Everyone worked together to co-create on new solutions. And despite our organisational complexity that comes from matrix structure we have, we were able to work as one unit – going in the same direction, being on the same journey. We were agile and results-oriented. Perhaps more agile than we have ever been.

Over the past few months, I have had conversations with around 25 decision makers in Danish companies. To the question around ‘how were you affected by corona? every single leader has been enormously impressed by how fast their own organisation were able to transform their delivery model in responding to the crisis.

The power of every individual
Now, we don’t really know which countries and companies will stand strong once we are passed corona. But there is some indication, that Denmark did well – and Danish companies were able to transform. So, what’s the secret sauce? First of all, I believe every change – small or large - starts with the individual. And every individual has an extreme amount of unlocked resources and competencies when really challenged. Add that to a strong purpose and clear vision of where to go, people will know what to do – even if they haven’t tried it before. At the same time, the combination of our digital readiness, high level of trust and resilience in Danish companies all add up to our ability to believe in the future, move fast and walk in the same direction.

So, what can we learn from corona? What I will bring forward is our organisational agility. Never to underestimate the importance of promoting a culture where innovation, trust and co-creation exist.

 

I believe the companies who can thrive after this crisis will come out a lot stronger than their counterparts. The gap between success and failure or average will become larger. Those who are agile, those who digitalise and those who transform, are those who will succeed in a New Normal.

More about the author

Christian Jensby

Christian Jensby

Partner

Christian is leading the 'Clients and Industries' organisation in Deloitte Denmark and is responsible for our go-to-market approach towards our clients – ensuring they get the best of Deloitte to support their transformation journey. To stay market-leading in public sector, financial services, energy, resources and industries, consumer, life science and technology, media and telecoms, Christian ensures that we combine our specialist knowledge with deep industry and sector know-how as well as leverage the global network of Deloitte experts to help our clients compete in the global, digital economy. Christian has 19 years of experience at Deloitte and has supported industry-leading clients to deliver end-to-end transformations, particularly within the finance area. He has worked with clients across the private and financial sector and advised their C-Suite members on their most challenging strategic and transformation journeys.