What Corona taught us about strategy work and ourselves as a growth company?

Michael Hanf

Managing Director of Taival Germany, Executive Partner

Tag : strategy

I guess we can all agree that the past months of COVID-19 induced lifestyle have been exceptional, exhausting, and scary. In the beginning, we thought it was a short-term inconvenience, but it turned into a long-term, life-changing event that touched all parts of our lives. In this article, I would like to reflect on how the pandemic has influenced our work and ourselves.

In March 2020, when the pandemic started, we had just completed a leadership workshop for an IT strategy project that we were delivering, and we were driving home. It was Friday, and we had another face-to-face leadership workshop coming up the following week. Little did we know then that it would take months before we would actually run a face-to-face workshop again.

The following weekend the Finnish government decided some strong measures to curb the curve, and most companies rapidly implemented a work from home policy. Within a matter of days, we had to switch our workshop model to a digital format that required a lot of preparation and adjustments. The collaboration tools at the beginning of the pandemic weren’t all that good. Nevertheless, the workshop went well, as we were all in the “same boat,” and we successfully completed the project with our client.

Following this experience, we reconsidered our business, our way of working, and what the situation that started to shape around the world would mean for us as a growth company. We reviewed and adjusted our cost base, revised our sales and delivery model, and started monitoring the situation very closely.

Fast forward fifteen months to June 2021. We are about to start the well-deserved summer break in Finland. While 2020 was a challenging year, we have seen our business rebound since the beginning of the year, thanks to our renewed focus and offering. So, what did we learn?

Strategy work has changed forever.

While our approach to strategy has always differed significantly from the traditional approach, we have further sharpened our approach, tools, and models to reflect the need for adaptability and resilience. We have been working with multiple clients to help them build the needed ability to change and adapt rapidly.

We turned these learnings into a framework that, based on our experience, will enable companies to shift the way strategy works from a static framework to a dynamic toolset that enables agile steering of a company’s direction. We called the model #StratOps in reference to the well-known DevOps model that has conquered the (IT) world. The shift towards a digital working style has, in this context, allowed us to work even closer with our clients and partners.

We are looking forward to implementing a hybrid approach that will enable us to combine the best of the digital and the physical world going forward.

Furthermore, we have expanded our ecosystem of partners globally by strongly utilizing digital means, which allowed us to provide our customers with an even broader set of deep expertise. Finally, we realized that while we enjoy working together remotely, we will establish a common home base for the Taival team that will allow us to collaborate and co-create, have fun and achieve together.

We sharpened our focus

At Taival, we were always very result-oriented. Saying that, the pandemic and related uncertainty has taught us to focus on the essentials, we built a lean and adaptable operating model while remaining committed to doing whatever it takes to make our clients successful. It’s good to be reminded sometimes of what’s really important, as only if there is a risk of something being taken away you start appreciating it.

Along the way, we had some tough decisions to make, and we learned how important our values and our Taival identity are to keep us aligned and focused. In general, I believe we will come out of this pandemic much stronger and more ready to follow our growth path than we were in March 2020.

Looking back, I feel blessed that we had put in the work of putting in place the basics for running a successful, resilient growth company that allowed us to survive the tough months and accelerate again once the opportunity opened up. The things we learned in this time and our actions will further strengthen our ability to deliver world-class projects together with our customers and partners and move ahead on our growth journey.

We started recruiting and growing the Taival team again in the beginning of 2021, and one of the people I talked with during the process told me what a phenomenal team we have at Taival. I can only agree, and I am looking forward to continuing to change the way strategy work is done and accelerating our growth!