Scale, scope, and skill
For operations to run smoothly, large organizations have relied on three pillars, the 3Ss: scale, scope, and skills. Today, they're being tested. And many companies are finding that they did not build their foundations as solidly as they had thought – or indeed had struggled to establish them at all. Businesses with robust pillars in place will reap the benefits:
- Economies of scale – Investments in technology and specialization allow operations across the front, middle, and back office to grow with the business. Thousands of people already follow standard processes thanks to methods like lean six sigma and, more recently, digital transformation. They've had enormous impact, reducing costs for businesses, making products and services more affordable for customers, minimizing risks, and increasing transparency.
- Economies of scope – Sharing and adopting the ideas and lessons learned from outside your company, industry, discipline, or function unlock opportunities and business resilience. For example, techniques pioneered by retailers for customer segmentation and hyper-personalization have been picked up by financial services firms. And analytical methods from manufacturers, such as lean six sigma and data science, are now embedded in consumer-goods firms.Large organizations must also work collectively as an industry with regulators and local governments to update business processes so that they comply with legislation and can adapt to fast-developing conditions.
- Skills – As scale and scope have evolved for businesses, the skill sets they need to compete have advanced too. Today, organizations must reskill large numbers of people quickly and ignite innovation at all levels.
These pillars support a company's future success, enabling it to generate value from its people, processes, and technology. And in today's circumstances, the 3Ss allow us to respond and adapt.
As organizations faced lockdowns, the first and fastest response has been to empower people with the ability to work from home. This has been a natural extension for companies already accustomed to working with a global footprint of operations, employees, clients, and partners. Those experienced in using collaboration technologies have been at an advantage, but soon everyone will be proficient in how to facilitate sophisticated meetings from their dining-room tables using virtual whiteboards, online annotation techniques, and recording tools.
But technology is only one part of the solution. The companies that will thrive are also helping their employees adapt how they work in this new environment. Changing office-based procedures to virtual ones is a challenge for global operations and finding effective ways to motivate distributed teams requires new approaches. In addition, companies need to enable close alignment across functions – including information-security, operations, risk, and work-transition teams – to make sure new practices work across functions.
In the first phases of the response to Coronavirus, organizations with a resilient operating model will have designed solutions, implemented them, and handed them over for wider adoption at speed.