Our Belgian companies are among the world leaders, both in terms of productivity and innovation. "If they want to emerge stronger from the current crisis, they should not sit back & wait," say Karine Roodhooft & Jeroen Van den Hove, partners at Stanwick.
which companies will emerge stronger from the corona crisis?
Roodhooft: "Despite the decrease in turnover last year, the healthy companies will come out of it stronger because they have learned from it. Companies were forced to innovate quickly and needed more resilience. Customer demand also fluctuated greatly, requiring more flexibility. For example, at certain times there was high demand for specific products, putting pressure on the entire supply chain. For other products, demand was sharply reduced or changed. For example, for food products there was a shift from B2B (restaurants) to B2C products. In addition, there was a high demand for new contracts, for example in the energy market. Due to the changing demand in the market, companies had the opportunity to start optimization projects, which will make them more resilient after the crisis."
how did you respond to this?
Van den Hove: "Stanwick offers consultancy and training. Corona has also completely changed the way our assessments, coaching, trainings and workshops take place today. We have strongly evolved towards online collaboration platforms. So by that complete redefinition of our approach, we ourselves are a good example of flexibility and resilience. The companies that were already strong and resilient became even stronger. Thus, the gap with those who were not and could not move quickly widened even more. We must also realize that we will never fully return to the situation before corona. The new normal will remain or at least we will have a hybrid form."
what impact has this crisis had on production processes?
Roodhooft: "With our consulting we focus on optimizing production and supporting processes. During the corona period, the 'just in time' principle was severely tested there: if one link fails, the whole chain fails. Companies have learned from this that they must get and keep their supply chain better under control, so that they become less dependent on deliveries from other continents and countries. This may slightly increase costs, but increase flexibility to customers and reduce transportation costs. In addition, the research on corona vaccines has taught us that when you take a very focused approach to product innovation and you do fewer projects at once, you can shift gears faster and also get results faster."
Van den Hove: "By rethinking their supply chain, companies will indeed be better armed against shocks. But it has also taught them to improve and automate their production processes wherever possible. In this way they become more flexible, can switch faster if necessary and become more competitive. In the context of striving for operational excellence, lean and industry 4.0 will only become more important."
how should companies deal with their employees?
Roodhooft: "The workforce, even more than before, is becoming the most important asset of companies. In addition to the automation of repetitive tasks, polyvalent workers remain crucial to drive production and support processes. They too have to go along with this change and continue to question themselves. This can be done precisely by involving them strongly and placing them centrally in the change process. But it is also simply crucial to attract and retain the right profiles, because that is certainly a challenge for technical profiles in Belgium. It is also important to continue to challenge them and train them."
Van den Hove: "So the war for talent is definitely not going away for these profiles. In that context, continuous training and retraining aimed at innovation and change is crucial. At Stanwick we have a lot of expertise in that field. The companies that succeed in putting permanent training high on the agenda will also succeed in switching faster and implementing innovation effectively."
in what sense will the role of the manager have to change?
Roodhooft: "They will have to work more from home, just like other functions. That requires the right dashboard with which they can remotely manage, monitor and intervene by means of indicators. We have recently made some great achievements here. With such a dashboard and the insights it provides, leaders can make more informed decisions, also remotely. The role of leaders is changing; they will have to learn to let go and give more autonomy to their employees."
Van den Hove: "We are getting more and more requests from customers to have a general overview of the operations and the supply chain. The importance of transparency is growing all the time. In addition, they want to be able
also want to be able to simulate the effect of certain decisions or external shocks. This is perfectly possible with a dashboard."