Going Digital Forced You to Go Global

COVID forced everyone to go digital, blowing down geographic boundaries in markets and labor pools.  These CEOs framed the serious management challenges in the easy idea of “going hybrid.”

3 big lessons

  • Communication technology cannot help form or protect the relationships essential to success
  • It will be essential to decide when in-person interaction is essential for each issue and person
  • Depending on the latest technology could disenfranchise much of our future workforce

Participants:  Aaron Zell, Carol White, Derrick Van Mell, Mark Gale (speaker), Steve Johannsen, Tim Size, Valerie Renk

Discussion questions

  1. How has COVID affected your customer service, marketing, recruitment or operations?
  2. What surprising opportunities do you see for 2021?
  3. What investments might you make to expand your digital reach and effectiveness?

Signs of change:  participants’ stories

  • Able to sell remotely, work nationally without plane flights, hotels
  • Volunteers are harder to find and harder to get long-term commitments
  • Parents with kids in school becoming dependent on some remote work
  • Recently hired people without meeting them and they’ll office out of state
  • Starting to worry about having one’s staff recruited from far away
  • Needing to work much more thoughtfully to maintain cohesion and culture

The inescapable logic of relationships and success

  1. In-person interaction is essential to our well-being
  2. Personal and organizational success depends on personal relationships
  3. In-person interaction, including social interaction, is essential to forming relationships
  4. Digital communications are not adequate for forming these essential relationships
  5. Established relationships need to be re-energized from time to time
  6. The idea “we can all be virtual” is appealing, but perilous

For whom in-person interaction essential

  • Successful, established managers had many relationships before COVID
  • Similarly, established organizations have reputations that can
  • Communication technology has helped preserve those relationships, but won’t indefinitely
  • Newer managers had not yet formed those relationships
  • Spontaneity is essential to innovation:  Can you have a “corridor meeting” on Zoom?

Building trust in 2D

  • Trusting relationships cannot be created in one meeting, no matter how clear the agenda
  • Make extra effort to be present in manageable-sized niches
  • Keep asking, “How can I help?”
  • Take time for fun, unstructured conversations and randomness

Steps to enhance, not replace human interaction

  • Map out the customer buying journey
  • One participant created a CTO position, another a Digital Content Manager
  • Be disciplined about SEO
  • Actually use your CRM
  • Use technology to warm up sales calls
  • Try new communications tools, e.g., CEO videos for internal communications
  • Be more deliberate about training:  it won’t happen naturally anymore, if it ever did

Sponsored by Michael Best