Fiona Logan, Chief Executive of Insights Learning and Development, shares 7 important reflections from navigating throughout the covid-19 pandemic.
Over the past 18-months, despite significant challenges, Insights has used the disruption caused by the global pandemic to engage more deeply with our communities and drive customer-centric innovation. Prior to March 2020, we had robust growth strategies in place – including a digital learning strategy – for every area of our business. The pandemic acted as a ‘super-accelerator’. This enabled us to realise our goals much more quickly than we could ever have imagined – and take away some key leadership reflections to share with others:
1. Understand yourself and others
At Insights, we help people understand themselves and others by learning about personal preferences. Layered on top of this is a unique language of colour (Fiery Red = decisive action, Sunshine Yellow = visionary and inclusive, Earth Green = calm and people-focused, Cool Blue = introverted and data-driven).
During the crisis, we realised how essential our offering is to new ways of working. Understanding personality preferences can enable leadership teams to work together more effectively than ever. Once you understand your natural strengths and weaknesses, you can ‘show up’ in a more authentic way and make better connections – creating more effective teams and better business outcomes.
2. We are in this with our customers
We help people better understand themselves and others, and that creates a deep and lasting connection with our diverse range of customers around the world. The global pandemic reminded us that we were all in this together.
We used the disruption to drive even greater customer-centric innovation by asking, “What do our customers need from us right now?” In a few short weeks, in response, we had flipped to a virtual-first delivery model, offering a wealth of educational webinars to help customers upskill. We saw unprecedented demand for our products. Our customers learned from us and we learned from our customers in hyper-drive. As the pandemic went on, we accelerated our customer-focus, carrying out thousands of unique pieces of customer research to help inform future innovation and product development.
3. Lean on your purpose
Many people these days choose to do business with companies because of the ‘why’ of what they do. At any moment, you will be presented with any number of things – all of which will seem important and demand your immediate attention. Leaning on your purpose – the thing you truly believe in – will ensure you remain focused and can overcome any crisis.
Our purpose is, “To create a world where people truly understand themselves and others and are inspired to make a positive difference in everything they do.” This has helped guide us for the past 30-years and allows us to embrace disruption.
Building community is at the heart of our purpose, vision and strategy. Insights directly employs almost 600 people around the world, we have an ecosystem of over 12,000 Insights practitioners, and a global partner network of more than 2,500 people, many of whom make a living selling Insights products. The pandemic not only threatened our global business – but also our communities. By leaning on our purpose, and accelerating our digital strategy, we were able to support our people, our practitioners, and our customers.
4. Enable agile processes
Underpinning our human-centred approach was an action plan, with robust processes, clear delegation, regular action-tracking and slick coordination.
I was forcefully reminded that forensic attention to detail and discipline were essential to carefully manage the day-to-day of business to ensure important decisions are made in a timely manner, supported by solid data.
5. Don’t forget about the future
Careful management of the day-to-day is critical – but don’t forget about the future.
Our Future Experiences (FX) team had previously been established but became even more meaningful during the early months of the pandemic – focused entirely on ensuring a pipeline of innovation, driven by customer data and underpinned by our strategy. The key reflection here is, never take your eyes off the horizon and never stop investing in your future. We have some incredibly exciting things happening across a number of different commercially viable areas because of our future focus.
6. Be honest and transparent with your community
According to Professor Brene Brown, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.” Be vulnerable and completely honest with your community. The Coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in some way, resulting in widespread anxiety, significant personal challenge and, in too many cases, loss and bereavement.
From the beginning, we were clear that we would do all we could to provide community, connection and care for our people. Our leadership team was in absolute agreement that we wouldn’t take decisions on anything we couldn’t explain to our people, looking them straight in the eye. There were herculean efforts taking place across the organisation to get us successfully to the other side of the pandemic, and it was important to recognise that. We have made difficult decisions along the way – but we have done it as a community. Putting people and customers at the heart of every decision will leave you in a stronger position for the future.
7. It takes a village
When the global pandemic hit, our teams worked tirelessly to ensure our business was set up to work remotely and that our customers could continue to access our intensely human experiences in a virtual setting. In a few short days, our leadership team had put our pandemic response plan into action and enabled our entire colleague community to work from home. At the same time our team of experts swiftly accelerated our digital strategy to ensure all our learning experiences could be delivered virtually. This meant that we could continue to create awareness, connection and community at such a critical moment.
The key reflection is – trust in the wisdom of the people around you, unashamedly pulling on the expertise of others, because navigating a crisis takes a village. Whatever challenge lies ahead, when you trust the people around you, it is possible to solve any problem and achieve anything.