15. Dezember 2020

Learnings from the crisis

Was können Unternehmen aus der Krise lernen

Customer survey: Learnings from the crisis

If one had claimed a year ago that working from the home office would be an accepted, even appreciated method, many manager would probably have frowned sceptically. But then Corona came along and everything was different. We were interested in how the crisis affected the companies and how they dealt with it. Have there been any insights that have led to changes? Do the companies feel well prepared for the future? The questionnaire is short and the CO Improve consultants go through it in interview form with their clients. Here is a brief interim summary for you, after we have already received numerous responses and the first trends are already emerging. However, we would also like to note that the number of responses is still too small to be able to present really well-founded significant results. We would also like to invite you to participate in our anonymous survey.

Overall, the companies surveyed were rather moderately affected by the crisis in terms of results and turnover. The average on a scale of 10 (1 = not at all to 10 = very strongly) was 4.5. However, there was a large spread around the average, because we found every type of company. So those that were hit very hard by the crisis as well as those that were able to profit from the pandemic.

Helpers in a crisis: agile working, focusing and prioritisation

There were also very different answers to the question of whether R&D projects could be continued largely unrestricted since the beginning of the crisis. Companies that were equally affected more in terms of turnover and earnings tended to experience greater restrictions. The reason for this was the partly restrictive cost-cutting measures such as short-time work or the suspension of the use of external resources. The companies also had problems carrying out pilots or validations, as virtual working was only possible to a limited extent for these process steps. Agile working, focusing and prioritising as well as process discipline were most frequently mentioned in the answers as to what contributed to the fact that projects could be continued largely unrestricted despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic. And of course, a well-functioning IT infrastructure was necessary, especially with sufficient communication bandwidth. However, most companies had already found these framework conditions or were able to create them in a short time.

Three quarters of the companies surveyed already had experience with agile working in the development of mechatronic products, i.e. not only in the development of software. These companies were also largely in agreement that agile working had demonstrated advantages over classic methods during the crisis, but there were also quite large differences here. It is clear, however, that companies that had not used agile methods before the crisis were hit harder by the effects. However, the basis is still too small to rule out a coincidence in this correlation, but on the other hand it is at least possible to suspect that agility is an essential factor of a resilient organisation.

Changes often also bring new markets

It was also interesting to learn that the crisis had caused changes in the product portfolio of about one third of the companies. Our consultants could see from the interviews that it was essentially a matter of additional opportunities, since the changes caused by the crisis have led to new markets for the customers.

Three quarters of the interviewed companies stated that the experiences from the crisis will lead to changes in the organisation and/or processes. Home office time shares will be increased across the board and some companies trust so strongly that this will not be a temporary phenomenon. Some of our interviewed companies stated that they have already cancelled rented office space this year. Communication with customers and partners will also gradually become more virtual, leading to significant changes in sales, marketing and service processes. The acceptance among customers to be addressed in this "digital" way has never been greater and all companies should use this opportunity to build up a trustworthy network virtually, according to the tenor.

The human factor takes centre stage

Overall, the human factor slips more into the foreground due to restrictions from the pandemic. Many management techniques fail when working virtually or at least lose significant efficiency. Employees have to organise themselves in their teams. In addition, managers have to learn that their employees do work intensively and with commitment in the home office.

Good for those who invested in a culture of trust in good time. And also good for the management that did its homework before the crisis, in which the corporate strategy was clearly defined and the necessary competences and capacities were planned or procured. Because this factor also seems to be a driver of success in the crisis. Viewed objectively, the picture is consistent: companies in which employees are used to working in a self-organised way in a relationship of trust - ideally, but not necessarily agile - have an advantage. And the best way for employees to generate good results in a self-organised way is if the environment is well prepared. That is, the corporate strategy is clear and everyone has understood it. The teams are adequately staffed - all the necessary competences are available in sufficient numbers.

Only the crisis reveals the weak points

While it is not surprising that this result has emerged, it is exciting to see how some companies are better at implementing these factors while others have challenges with them. The stress of the crisis mercilessly exposes all weaknesses. But there are also opportunities from the crisis. This was clearly shown by the responses to the portfolio change question.

All in all, the majority of the companies surveyed feel well positioned for the future. But here, too, there is an enormously high bandwidth: while 40 percent give themselves the best rating (10), the assessment of the other 60 percent is spread out to the worst value (1).

It is probably time for a critical self-assessment now at the latest. For only from this can lessons be learned for future crises. According to the experts' estimates, the Corona pandemic will not be the last crisis of this magnitude. Therefore, an investment in the future is certainly extremely helpful.

Take part and get exclusive details

If you are interested in taking part in this survey, please let us know.
The results will remain anonymous, but you will receive a special evaluation that will show you where you stand in comparison to other companies. We will arrange a relaxed interview appointment and in 30 minutes we will go through the questions together. You will then be among the first to know all the results and exclusive details. Our principal Herbert Schönebeck looks forward to your feedback.

Email an Herbert Schönebeck