3 characteristics of the future-ready business
March 5, 2019 / Startup / Greg Atkinson
It’s not going to be business as usual for much longer. Research by global management consultant firm McKinsey estimates that more than half of the existing skills in the workforce will become obsolete in the next few decades. More employees than ever will leave their companies to pursue entrepreneurship. Companies will be increasingly judged, not just on their products or services, but on their character and social impact. All this means companies must drastically shift the way they operate. And fundamentally change their idea of what ‘good business’ means.
While companies of the past operated on a top-down model in which products were handed down to consumers, and instructions handed down to employees, the future-ready business will be based on bilateral and multi-directional relationships. And while issues were dealt with on a ‘when we get to it’ basis, being able to solve problems quickly will be the difference between survival and extinction.
For any company with an eye on the future, these 3 characteristics must permeate the very core of its business:
1) Skills at the ready
A future-ready organisation must tackle challenges quickly. In an ever more fast-paced world, a couple of hours could be the difference between success and failure. Which means time will become even more precious. Time wasted in solving a problem, or finding the right people to do so, could be deadly.
Finding the right people will be more difficult for companies without a transparent skills ecosystem. As research shows, the current skills available in an organization will become obsolete in a matter of years. This means personnel must be retrained. And quick. Alternatively, employees may upskill themselves on their own initiative, and the company will need a way to surface these new skills. Unfortunately, companies rarely ask for updated CVs, so employees whose skills have improved go unnoticed. This will force the company to look externally. Which means an inconveniently lengthy recruitment process when speed is of the essence.
On the other hand, a company with a thorough understanding of their skills ecosystem will be able to identify the problem solvers, and deploy them without hesitation. A tool like Kalido is essential for any business that wants a comprehensive, up-to-date view of all the skills it has, or needs. User profiles list all of a person’s current skills, not just the ones they initially entered the workforce with. Past projects are showcased via portfolio links. Future aspirations are noted. Full education and work history are displayed. All of the above are constantly being updated. This gives a company a thorough understanding of a person’s current skillset. Identifying problem solvers with the right skills becomes simple.
Additionally, Kalido removes the hassle of manually matching the person with the problem. Users simply input search parameters, and Kalido’s smart algorithms will scour the network for the most suitable person. A company need only tell Kalido it is looking for ‘an expert on Chinese labour law, based in Vermont’, and Kalido will find it the China specialist practicing down the street. Or tell Kalido you need a UX designer, and it will surprise you with the fact that your PA recently graduated from her UX course with honours.
A company with Kalido has the confidence of knowing that it can quickly find the right people to solve any problem.
2) Culture of collaboration
Companies who believe the role of the supervisor is to instruct, and the role of the subordinate is to receive instructions, are in for a rude awakening. Likewise companies who believe consumers are passive recipients of goods and services.
Cooperation and collaboration is the new norm. Superior technical skills may have seen an employee rise up the ranks in years past, but soft skills are fast replacing technical prowess. More businesses are realizing that leadership is about bringing diverse personalities together, not a one-directional transfer of knowledge. More democratic and linear relationships between supervisors and subordinates, and between colleagues in general, replace the culture of fear with one of mutual respect. This is especially important as more Millenials and Gen Z candidates enter the workforce. These employees are likely to know more about current systems and processes than their seniors. And they’ll be vocal about it. They’ll also expect a more collaborative and congenial company culture. These employees won’t need to be taught the job. Instead, they will expect to be guided on their careers.
Similarly, consumers are spoiled for choice in terms of goods and services. Very few companies will enjoy a monopoly or even an oligopoly to the extent that they can afford to ignore consumer feedback. Customers are quick to point out a product’s shortcomings. And what they would prefer instead. Online consumer forums and social media are hotbeds of user complaints and suggestions for improvements. Companies who ignore feedback will see their customers quickly voting with their feet. Customers thus become collaborators in the production process.
A company must recognize these multi-directional relationships. And keep them strong. Kalido helps businesses do just that.
Kalido profiles allow colleagues to know each other as people, not merely as a job title. In addition to a person’s skills, their interests, hobbies, affiliations and contacts are displayed. Colleagues will be reminded that everyone has a life outside of work. And in fact, they may have more in common with someone than they realized. Perhaps they went to the same school. Or they enjoy the same pastime. Or they’re even distantly related. Such information encourages colleagues to chat and socialize, creating stronger bonds. Familiarity leads to more trust and cooperation.
Similarly, Kalido networks keep consumers in the loop about a company’s latest developments. Company administrators can broadcast messages to its members, so customers who’ve opted in can be reached in an unobtrusive way. This is much more effective than advertising that no one wants to see or hear. Customers with complaints or suggestions can also reach a company representative via free chats and calls.
Additionally, the Kalido feed is constantly updated with the skills people need or have. A smart business will recognize this as an invaluable treasure trove of information. For example, if people are frequently searching for emigration tax advice, this could be a new service your firm offers. Or score CSR points by encouraging staff to volunteer at the local soup kitchen this weekend.
Kalido can help businesses build and maintain relationships both internally and externally. This provides a solid foundation for a culture of collaboration.
3) Purpose over profit
Previously, companies could primarily concern themselves with producing better products or services than competitors. Now, they must also worry about being better global citizens. A company is expected to have a personality, a political stance, a worldview.
Nike has built a powerful brand around ‘Just do it’. It encourages ordinary people to find the courage within themselves to push beyond their limits – just like professional athletes. In recent years, it’s also taken a clear political stance. It is one of the few brands who embraced controversial football player Colin Kaepernick early on. Its alliance with the polarising player saw its stocks lose 3.2% almost instantly. Then the tides turned and Nike found a larger and even more loyal audience, selling out its Kaepernick Icon jersey in mere hours. It’s just one example of the responsibility consumers place on brands to lead conversations, not just in their industry, but also in society.
Which means any company that is still concentrating on profit over purpose, or profit devoid of purpose, will soon find itself left behind. Companies must take a long-term view. It must invest the time and energy into building brand equity and relationships. As discussed above, both internal and external relationships matter.
And the key to doing that is a fundamental shift in understanding. It’s not a question of profit or purpose. For the future-ready business, purpose is profit. Only a company with a clear idea of its place in the world, and the good it can do will be successful.
As organisation consultant and motivational speaker Simon Sinek points out, it all Starts with Why. Employing Agile principles to improve internal processes are all good and well. But employees need to be told why these are necessary. They must understand the fundamental problems they are being called on to solve. Only when they’ve understood their purpose, can they be convinced to adopt methods and strategies that help them achieve it. Similarly, consumers must understand a company’s raison d’être. Brand loyalty is achieved not just when consumers like the product, but when they like the way the company does business. One need only look at Facebook to learn this lesson. As much as users loved keeping up with their friends and family, the callous way the company handles sensitive data and the tone-deaf response to its data breach investigations have caused many thousands to leave the app. A product or service’s convenience is no match for a company’s perceived lack of character.
Kalido’s own worldview is openly and repeatedly stated throughout our website, blog, and in the way we run our business. We create opportunities for everyone (to meet, to work, to strengthen relationships), in the belief that better connections mean a better world for everyone. We fiercely respect and protect our users’ privacy. We continuously prioritise user experience over revenue. We believe that democratizing opportunities is not just good business, it’s good sense. Which is why we look for organisations and individuals with a similarly strong sense of purpose to partner with.
As technology, business norms, and employee and customer expectations change, companies should take an honest look at themselves. And ask themselves whether they have, or need to cultivate, the 3 crucial characteristics that will make them future-ready.