2009, when Lehman Brothers went into bankruptcy, Scania was one of the affected companies. Instead of firing people, the company together with the employees decided to pay 90% of the salary, have a working week of 4 days and 60% of the time in production was spent on education. That gave Scania a stronger position when the recession was over. The employees were more loyal than ever, better educated and ready to ramp up long before the competitors that needed to spend time and money on recruitment and onboarding.
At that time, this was an unexpected solution. Today, when hotels and restaurants are empty due to the Corona outbreak, the state is offering a similar solution to restaurants and hotels. The employer will give a short-time layoff to the employees to hopefully be ready to get back to employment when the situation has changed.
In agile we assume that the reality will change. Methods, principles, the whole mindset is built for an unpredictable future. So let´s use the possibility we have now when we are exposed to so much uncertainty. We can learn more about how we can take new steps of experiment, evaluate, learn, adapt and find a new hypothesis to experiment around. We do already have good examples, stores are offering home-deliveries and companies are redirecting their manufacturing to produce healthcare. Absolut Vodka will produce ethanol for hand sanitizer and flight crew are educated in healthcare. This will give us new experiences and learnings, and give us a better position towards our competitors after the recession period is over.
But where and how do we find our new business? It is time for creativity and playfulness. The more the merrier, so let´s find as many ideas in the organization as possible to try out. Whenever I get the opportunity to get to know a colleague´s history and hobbies, I get overwhelmed by what diversity of knowledge and experience there are at every workplace. Have you heard about the Weber grill? It was created in a metal shop, manufacturing buoys. The grill was produced using two sheet metal half-spheres normally used as parts of buoys built in the shop. Totally new business, from the existing resources in the shop. So what hidden competence do you have in your organization, ready to use for the next rising star?
To be truly creative we need to feel safe. I suppose all of us feel some sort of unsafety right now. My parents are definitely in the risk group and how will this period affect the business for Agile Coaches? I live in one of the world’s most safe countries, so what do I need to continue to feel that? I assume my worries are not much different than someone else’s. The worries need to be taken honestly. As a company, we can´t take away the worries for the loved ones, but we can make work a safe place where people can charge the batteries by giving the mind some rest and focus on the business. What can you do in your organization to make people feel appreciated and valuable? What can you do to take the worries for the business and employment off the table? What information needs to be shared? What talks need to be taken? Who needs to be personally addressed taken care of?
- Short information meetings often about the situation, how it affects your business and new strategic decisions taken. Don´t forget to give time for questions, to make it a dialogue.
- Talk about the economic situation. Some might not want to hear, but some will.
- Are there any thoughts about notice or layoffs? Inform about either-or. Employees will talk about it anyway, so don´t avoid the subject.
- Take time for one-to-one talks. You never know who is the worried one, but you will find out with a small chat.
With a strong Agile Mindset, we can use this unpredictable time to strengthen our position by supporting society with adapting our services and products to the existing situation. We can use the time to learn and develop and find new business. And last but maybe most important, we can use the time to show we care for each other and make people feel loved and awesome.
So continue to experiment, play and find great new solutions and ideas!