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Lessons from 2020 to help you through 2021
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The year 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for all of us. It has affected not only our businesses but also our lives. It is safe to say that this year has been rough. But it has also been a year of learning and new opportunities, if not for today, then for 2021 and the future.

The pandemic has affected our entire being, threatening health, ways of living, businesses, the economy and world security. As we near the end of 2020, it feels as if we’re going to end it on a negative note. Uncertainty still looms all around us as we approach 2021.

We may still be struggling today, but there are opportunities we haven’t fully seized yet, and potential within ourselves and our people that we haven’t fully met. While learning alone cannot help us succeed, the lessons from the past year can help us open 2021 in smarter ways.

2020 was a tough year but we have learned a couple of important lessons to help us into the future. Here are some lessons to take away from 2020 to help you start strong in 2021 and beyond. 

First, part of the new normal is the normalization of remote work. The recent crisis has shifted the way of working forever. Nothing we do can make us go back to what it was before, and certainly not the way we work. While not all organizations can adopt remote working for various reasons, it comes down to digital transformation.

What this means is that organizations need to be able to transform their people to work in this digital age. Digital transformation doesn’t necessarily mean equipping organizations with high technology. Rather, it is about equipping our people with the knowledge and skills to use technology as means to support work, especially remote work.

Second, we’ve seen the power of collective effort through collaboration. Whether it’s inside the organization or with other organizations, these collective efforts create greater impact. Collaboration within the organization can motivate and drive employees toward innovation. 

Additionally, when there is cross-functional collaboration, this allows people to complement each other’s strengths to create greater impact for their work and the organization.

Moreover, if you’ve noticed throughout the year, more businesses started working together on campaigns for product lines. Collaborations have always been a part of businesses, and there’s no denying their impact, especially in the past year.

Third, even if you feel like you’ve communicated enough, communicate even more. Communication has been a challenge because of the lockdown earlier this year and options for remote work. But we cannot deny that communication has always been challenging in general. Without proper communication, especially during a crisis, panic ensues, and processes can become messy.

The recent crisis has forced businesses to rethink the ways they communicate with their people and their customers. The biggest lesson we’ve learned is that honest and transparent communication is important. More importantly, communicating important updates for the organization and your customers must be constant.

Fourth, agility is no longer critical – it is a requirement. Agility is about adapting quickly to changes. But it isn’t simply an organizational thing; rather, agility needs to begin within each individual person if it is to thrive at the organizational level.

Look at it this way: imagine only one department in an entire organization is working with agility, while the rest of the organisation continues in the same old ways. While that one department may be working well, any cross-functional projects may fall apart simply because other departments have not adopted agility.

Finally, human values and empathy have become a stronger core element for businesses. While customer-centrism has always been a core for every business, it can often get lost in the pursuit of numbers. Profit is important for businesses but in the past year, we’ve learned that a shift in customer behaviour can threaten our revenue. 

The way we approach customers cannot remain the same when the customers themselves have transformed their decision-making and purchasing behaviors. Because of this, human values and empathy have become an even more important element to look at. They helps us move with our people and our customers in ways that provide them with value for their needs today.

2020 has flown by so quickly, with many lessons for us to take away into 2021. We may not know what 2021 has in store for us. But what we do now is that there are many skills we have learned and must continue developing for our people to ensure our organizations can face the future ahead.