Simon Sear, the founder of Studio 44, describes his business as “a next generation consultancy.” When it comes to delivering the change most businesses now need, he argues, the problem with many of the existing consultancies claiming to specialize in transformation is that they are good at one thing or the other. Some excel at coming up with ideas while others are skilled at implementing projects. Studio 44 aims to do both, Sear explains.
“The prototype stage is important but it’s the scale-up of the idea that delivers dramatic results,” he argues. “It can also be the hard bit—it’s about looking at technology projects in a more rounded way.”
What does that mean in practice? One example is Studio 44’s recent work with a business that needed to introduce Covid-19 testing for employees in sites around the world. Sear ran a series of experiments with the company to test out different technologies, vendors and operating approaches, but also focused on broader issues such as communication with staff and discussions with unions; then, having settled on a model that worked, Studio 44 helped the company to roll it out on a company-wide basis.
Sear spent the first half of his career working in senior technology roles at blue chip corporations such as Enron and BP; more recently, he worked as a board director at the consultancy BJSS, advising clients such as Fidelity Investments and Deutsche Bank on technology-driven transformation, and also setting up Sparck as the “design backbone” of the firm.
A year ago, Sear decided to go it alone, launching Studio 44 as a project to sustain him during the next stage of his working life. “It is more than just about making money; I wanted to build something with purpose too,” he reflects. “My role is to help senior leaders think about how to prepare for the future—and to recognize that growth should be progressive.”
Simon Sear, founder of Studio 44
The good news, Sear suggests, is that this progressive growth is in reach. He is convinced that that the post-pandemic period will be reminiscent of the roaring twenties of a century ago, with the conditions in place for strong growth but also for positive social change.
The natural post-recession catch-up, allied to the strong stimulus from government and individuals spending savings, can sustain an economic boom, he says. “But something is going on socially too; there is a real aspiration for change.” Government support for the environmental agenda provides just one example of how growth can be more sustainable, he suggests.
How, then, to capitalize on these supportive conditions? Sear believes it is crucial to learn the lessons of the crisis. “Covid-19 shone a light on some critical lessons, but these can work in our favor during the better times ahead,” he maintains. His view is that business leaders—no matter what the size of their organizations—need to focus on 10 teachings gleaned from the pandemic:
- Create a common mission. Often, in non-crisis times, organizations pay lip service to their mission—it is written down, but no one really buys it. If the crisis did one thing very well, it was to provide a focus, Sear suggests.
- Deliver on the need for speed. The pace of change was already accelerated, but the crisis supercharged this; organizations now need to be able to respond more quickly and with more agility than ever before, Sear adds.
- Change the corporate mindset. Many companies have long held beliefs that limit their ability to respond and transform, Sear argues. These assumptions need to be dumped.
- Make bold investments. The successful businesses of the last 12 months were the ones that had historically invested in new ways of working and backed bold, new propositions, Sear argues.
- Experiment. In a decade that will be defined by rapid change and transformation, inexpensive, fast experimentation needs to be in the DNA of an organization, Sear says.
- Put your best people on your best opportunities. Sear believes that with the pace of change becoming ever faster and the war for talent continuing to heat up, leaders need to balance the need for transparency and fairness with quickly getting the right people in the right roles to optimize the chances of overall organizational success.
- Teach more than new digital skills. Build on the successes of working from home and a period of change and disruption, Sear urges. It is crucial to teach employees new cognitive strategies and behaviors to enable them to adapt.
- Break the silos. Covid-19 prompted innovative leaders to gather multi-skilled teams and to give them space. A return to more traditional operating models would be a mistake, says Sear.
- Keep communicating. The pace of disruption and uncertainty in the next decade will leave people often feeling unsettled; provide reassurance, Sear suggests, just as good leaders did during the Covid-19 crisis.
- Practice stakeholder capitalism. “Leaders need to take a cooperative model into the next period of transformation,” Sears says. “They need to take a long-term view, to have a strategy that not only ensures financial performance in the short term, but invests, and is seen to invest, in longer term positive outcomes for all stakeholders.”
If that sounds like a lot to keep track of, Sear’s advice is to keep things as simple and focused as possible. “Remind yourself every day what your organization’s mission is – even if that means sticking it on the fridge,” he says. “Decide on your priorities as resources allow and make sure you have teams that are bold and open enough to embrace them.”
Source by www.forbes.com