Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

For numerous companies, this is the 2021 planning season. The widespread disruption to business during 2020 raised awareness about what can and cannot be managed when overwhelming, unexpected events occur. Uncertainty is no stranger to business leaders, but the profound, unprecedented impact of the Covid challenge caused many to reconsider their purpose, values, and vision before delving into goal setting, strategy development and action planning.

Among the results of this foundational review is a refocusing on purpose: how does the business make things better for their customers as a priority over making things better for themselves. This perspective reflects a lesson learned as business sustainability became increasingly urgent.
Similarly, there is an evolution of core values resulting from the experiences of 2020. Established principles are being refined, including these examples:

  • Collaboration – Collaboration promotes curiosity, enables learning, fosters commitment and accelerates progress.  “To go fast, go alone; to go far, go together” (African proverb); or
  •  Innovation – Being innovative is blending ideas from different sources to break the status quo and find a new solution, enabling more consistent, productive change than does the introduction of a novel technology.

And newly cited values are gaining prominence:

  • Empathy – a recognition that greater understanding of others cultivates more enduring relationships with associates and with customers; or
  • Critical Thinking – amidst an environment of unrelenting change, remaining agile and objective often depends on how well the huge array of available data is analyzed and prioritized to drive decision-making; or
  • Resilience – perseverance and initiative grow as persistent struggle challenges people to become increasingly comfortable with discomfort, prompting them to consider the next best step rather than despairing or waiting for direction about what to do next.

While these values themselves are not new, their elevated importance as core principles is aconsequence of knowledge gained. Being willing to reconsider an established business culture is a healthy, productive step in building long-term sustainability.

How has your business culture been impacted by your 2020 experiences?