In today’s current climate many companies have had to be imaginative about their business offering to be able to survive. Local pubs becoming pop up village shops, restaurants opening for takeaway food, garden centres offering new online deliveries, clothing manufacturers now making face coverings. What has been interesting to see is that these companies haven’t necessarily changed their purpose but have simply changed what they are offering and how.
Pivoting your business for the new normal
During the COVID-19 pandemic Simon Sinek, the author of ‘Start With Why’, has spoken a lot about how businesses can pivot what they do whilst maintaining their purpose. So, the pub whose purpose is to be a key part of the community can continue to do this by offering food and supplies rather than beer and pub food. The garden centre who wants to inspire people to love their gardens can still do this by offering online deliveries rather than in store.
Sinek urges all business leaders to discover their reason for doing what they do. His TED talk on the topic is one of the most viewed talks ever. Sinek introduces us to the concept of the Golden Circle.
Most companies communicate from the outside in and concentrate on what they do, whereas Sinek suggests we start with our why and work outwards. He believes that clients and people engage with a company based on their purpose and beliefs rather than what they are offering. He uses Apple as an example. Why did so many people buy MP3 players from a computer company? Because we were bought into their why of offering beautiful, innovative simple to use products. It didn’t matter that they were a computer company and not a music tech company.
Have we been able to pivot?
As a training consultancy, we have always been very proud that we offer an energetic and engaging face-to-face experience for our clients. With the government lockdown restrictions in place we have been unable to offer any of our existing courses. Our purpose or our why has always been to help our clients to:
- Minimise legal, financial and brand risk
- Improve workforce efficiency
- Save time and energy dealing with people issues
Utilising Zoom Pro, we have been able to keep our purpose but have simply changed how we deliver our sessions. We still want to do all those things above, but we can now do them online rather than face-to-face.
Moving from face-to-face to virtual learning
We have delivered online learning before, but it has still been a big learning curve to consider how we can deliver our usual face-to-face, highly interactive sessions whilst all sitting at different locations. Initially we began by fighting it a little and being annoyed that we had to do this in the first place. We then looked at fitting our existing face-to-face sessions into online versions. Why reinvent the wheel if we already had the content? However, the most effective way to look at any training design (as we know) is to consider what we want people to learn and do differently as a result of attending one of our sessions. We then work out from there considering how we can get them to learn using the technology we have.
To try to utilise some of the reasons why we like face-to-face training we decided upon live highly interactive online sessions rather than webinars. We like to have our delegates on camera and unmuted. This allows us to hold discussions as we would in a face-to-face session. To enable us to do some small group work we utilise the breakout rooms function of Zoom Pro. We also have the use of polls, a chat box, whiteboard, and annotation.
Our first online HR Essentials course was a great success. We received some really positive feedback and have come away with some constructive ideas of how to improve for our next one.
What does the future look like for us?
The COVID-19 lockdown has acted as a catalyst for us to offer a more flexible learning approach. It was always going to happen for us, but it has happened much quicker than anticipated. As employees are expected to be more adaptable and agile then so to must the learning that supports them in their roles. Pre-recorded learning options could also become available on our website as we consider asynchronous self-directed learning.
Going forward, we will be offering our online only courses for as long as it is necessary to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus. Once Government guidance allows, we will offer a blended approach to our clients of face-to-face and online options.