One of my favourite writers, Paolo Coelho writes in his recent book ‘The Archer’, “The archer cannot always choose the battlefield, so start your training again and be prepared for an unfavourable situation.”
Like many, this pandemic has taught me much about life, work, workplace, and people. Luckily for me and my team, 2020 was one of our busiest and most productive in the past 16 years. It taught me how to hit a bull’s eye from a hanging bridge, while swaying in the wind.
From my experience these are the 6 learnings that worked wonders for us:
1. Lead with compassion Quantum often uses the term ‘Happy Profit’. This means gaining a profit without losing focus on happiness. When the pandemic hit, Quantum cascaded one motto to all teams; ‘zero layoffs zero salary cut’. A simple commitment towards job safety acted as a huge boost and our focal point became stabilising the business, with the sole purpose of securing jobs for everyone. Our global board initiated listening sessions to gauge sentiment across offices; It was an excellent way to show empathy and convey ‘we are all in this together.’ Quantum’s quarterly pulse surveys & in – person check-ins kept us informed of the team’s feelings with a view to experiment with new strategies every quarter to improve morale & motivation. This compassion kept us cohesive, adaptive, and resilient. It became our core strength in the toughest of times.
2. Work with client partners who are ‘Hungry’ and ‘Resilient’ Several client partners approached the lockdown with caution. However, we managed to identify two client profiles who thought it prudent to invest in insights & strategy in a crisis year. We called them ‘The Hungry’ and ‘The Resilient’. The ‘Hungry’ had experienced growth and chose to thrive in crisis. ‘The Resilient’ had been hit by the pandemic but had chosen to overcome the adversity. While both were limited in numbers, they provided us enough optimism for the future.
3. Right Timing keeps you ahead of others Much like other firms, our face-to-face interactions were halted, and we had to pivot towards new digital methods, which had to be piloted and developed to the extent to which we could confidently recommend these to our clients. While the decision was unsurprising, the speed was neck breaking. In 15 days, we piloted and launched the Quantum Digital Lab across 9 offices in a phased manner. This first mover advantage was the wind in our sails and there was no looking back! We conducted 100% nf2f interactions by the end April, allowing us to showcase Quantum as a future ready brand.
4. Learn to live in organised chaos ‘Organised chaos’ is an oxymoron that means a complex situation or process that appears chaotic while having enough order to achieve progress or goals. We did not strive for absolute perfection; we opted for value maximisation in a chaotic situation. We changed the way of working dramatically in the past year. We let go of many traditional methods and invented new ones. The new methods are way more collaborative, co-creative and optimised – faster yet non-compromising. Quantum global partners brought their heads together and supported us in creating this state. We opted for a new value maximisation proposition – AGILITY | CONSISTENCY| FLEXIBILITY.
5. Strong brand equity makes you indispensable in crisis Investing in your brand equity takes time but it is critical if you want to thrive in a crisis. Think about it. What matters to us most? In a crisis? Faith, trust, safety, assurance & quality? We tend to gravitate towards substance rather than superficiality. The world around us is uncertain and unsafe making us feel most vulnerable. In such chaos, restoring order is an imperative, which often manifests in choosing brands of substance & trust That is why in a pandemic we see trusted brands grow exponentially. Including Quantum.
6. Keep the audacious dreamer in you alive In a most uncertain year, we experimented with plans A, B or C. Rather than reach for the stars, we yearned for small milestones and pivoted basis weak signals. However, we never ceased chasing the dream. But the dream was not only achieving numbers, but to thrive when it is only human to give up. The dream was to master our minds and skills. I might have not mastered my mind, yet. But at least I know, I am on the journey.
So, what was outcome of all these practices? HAPPY PEOPLE, HAPPY PROFITS The last quarter showed a significant majority of our team members wholly supported our decisions with never seen numbers linked to Quantum advocacy.
What’s more, we also managed to keep our morale high and achieved our common goal.