Shocked. Anxious. That’s how we felt when the global pandemic and the lockdown were announced. We needed to make sense of what was going on and take urgent actions to take care of our people, our clients and our company. In that order.
Management Strategies is a consulting company in Asia, focused on leadership development, team engagement and culture transformation. For 28 years, what fueled our success is our purpose of “transforming people and organizations, so that together, we transform society”. However, with the global pandemic, society was transforming in front of our very eyes. Our business that largely thrived on face to face interactions became irrelevant overnight. We needed to adapt.
WEEK 1: STAKEHOLDER DIALOGUES THROUGH VIRTUAL ACTION LEARNING
The first thing we needed to do was to connect with our stakeholders, get a sense of how everyone was doing, and co-create our ways forward. We ran 5 virtual Action Learning sessions – 2 for consultants, 2 for clients and one for the partners and management team. The distress was palpable on all fronts, yet the process allowed us to shift into productive insighting and idea generation.
WEEK 2: BIRTH OF THE EVOLUTION TEAM
The output became the basis for pivoting our business model to address short-term (lockdown) and long-term (next normal) scenarios. A dedicated project team was formed to bring strategies to reality: The Evolution Team. We restructured MgtStrat into three separate focus areas – Clients, Consultants, Platform. A meeting cadence was set so that we can regularly calibrate our strategies. Plans were put in motion.
On the same week, while the Clients and Consultants groups surveyed our stakeholders, the Platform group ran a pilot of a Work from Home series to get MgtStrat up to speed on our new communication platform.
WEEK 3: CLIENT CONVERSATIONS
One of the priorities set by the Evolution Team was to remain connected and relevant to our clients. Casual conversations with some clients revealed that many didn’t know where to start or what journey they had to take to surmount such an unprecedented change. Our consulting process would not serve us well this time – it would have been the blind leading the blind…! It was almost better to present a menu of pre-designed services.
WEEK 4: MGTSTRAT-U AND VIRTUAL LEARNING SESSIONS
We launched MGTSTRAT-U, a new brand offering virtual learning sessions to help people cope and thrive with the disrupted business environment i.e. Work from Home Series, Almost Anxiety Series, Business Agility Series, Leading with Purpose. Complimentary pilot sessions were offered at the onset. The program lineup continues to expand. These are now being delivered in-house for many clients. Public course offerings are underway. Some courses will be converted into a mobile learning platform, as we expand into blended approaches.
WEEK 5: THE CONSULTANTS MARKET PLACE
The Action Learning sessions revealed that our Consultants’ biggest concern was loss of growth and financial momentum. Thus we launched the MgtStrat Marketplace, an online portal where consultants can APPLY for work opportunities, PITCH new ideas, and SIGN UP for upskilling courses. The highlight of these courses was the Evolution Series: All Things Virtual – where all Consultants were equipped with the skills to design, facilitate, moderate and produce virtual sessions. Known for culture of fun and friendship, the Marketplace was also used to promote community activities like Game Nights and PPT parties, and pilot our new Heist team development offering.
WEEK 6: LiNN CLIENT ROUNDTABLES
While we didn’t have ready solutions to our clients’ plights through the pandemic (who did at that time?), we instead organized intimate roundtable discussions amongst CEO’s, CHRO’s, Business Unit Heads and Business Owners so they can leverage on each other’s wisdom and experience. Our Leading in the New Normal series (LiNN) provided conversations starters like Mental Wellness, The Road Ahead, Communication & Engagement in the Virtual Workplace. These client meetings help us to further hone our services.
WEEK 7 ONWARDS: BUSINESS UNUSUAL IN THE NEW NORMAL
Proving ourselves even more relevant and responsive to clients, contracts began to stream in at a steady pace. Consultants are even more engaged – working, learning and growing together. As Management Strategies continue to become more future ready, global expansion has become a real possibility.
THE NEXT NORMAL
We believe that Covid will be around for a longer time, and the need keep people safe will continue to be a priority for societies around the globe. For this reason, our own strategies, go to market models and organizational structure moving forward will focus on three main areas: SAFETY, BUSINESS SUSTAINABILITY, and RELEVANCE.
Our own learning journey helped us process difficult emotions, build community, fuel dreams and take action. We started our journey with HOPE. We continue our journey knowing we are part of a bigger community and we can CO-CREATE the future together.
This was written by Cristina Alafriz & Elcee Asuncion Villa of Management Strategies