The Hidden Power For Projects And Organisations
After the Covid-19 outbreak and the rise of new digital trends, a lot of emphasis has been given to streamlining and improving processes within organisations.
However, one key element that is often overlooked is how well people fit into these processes.
In other words, the key to a successful digital transformation is strongly related to the human factor and human interaction.
If organisations focus on human interaction, collaboration, and the value that every single individual brings to the results, these individuals will bring the same value to customers and the organisation.
The importance of people connecting and interacting in meaningful ways is paramount for the success of projects, programs, and organisations (even though face-to-face human interaction has taken a major hit since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic).
In this article, we’ll share meaningful insights about the priceless value of human interaction within an organisation and how focusing on the human factor helps organisations stay competitive in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Table of contents:
- Human factor in business: A short background
- Social evolution and why we need to connect: A brief history
- Understanding the business environment & the importance of human factor
- Putting humans at the centre of a project – 3 examples
1. Human Factor In Business: A Short Background
After Covid-19 hit, everyone has lived a moment of reckoning when it comes to trust in each other (you may have asked yourself, “Are people that I meet carrying the virus?”or “Should I trust them?”).
In the professional world, people also had to watch their organisations adapt and change work policies.
In many cases, the trust between employers and employees shifted as there were a lot of catch-ups to be done by organisations that were learning, adapting, dealing with remote workforce, and adjusting to new work policies.
However, trust is the most valuable of all business assets (this is why trust is one key element that we would like to bring up in this article).
The other key element that we’ll bring up is the connection between people (e.g., feeling connected with a group, brand, and organisation).
Notwithstanding the digital transformation, virtual interaction cannot entirely replace face-to-face interaction (because virtual interaction cannot encourage innovation and creativity in the same way face-to-face interaction does).
In order for organisations to create a culture of trust, they need to:
- Embrace the fact that they are all in the people business (meaning they are powered by the brains, hearts, and thoughts of people they work with).
- Shift their focus to one of the best ways to make people interact and perform.
When organisations do that, they unleash a superpower which is their human side.
Thus, if the organisations disrupted by the pandemic realise that they have to focus on people first and allow them to interact in a genuine way, they will be able to achieve positive outcomes.
Now, we would like to remind you that organisations deal with people in two different ways:
- On one side, they deal with their employees (their largest asset)
- On the other side, they deal with customers, partners, and suppliers
However, if organisations focus on employees first, they also focus on customers (because employees serve their customers and are with them every day).
As a result, the priority for organisations should be shifting from thinking externally to thinking internally. This mindset shift can be key to success for many businesses that are struggling to stay competitive (because their untapped potential is likely to be internal to them).
Please note that focusing on employees goes beyond simply managing people. Instead, it relates to empathy, emotional intelligence, and finding different ways of collaborating.
Without these key elements, organisations may find their employees make different choices concerning their employment and workplace (which would result in high employee turnover).
2. Social Evolution And Why We Need To Connect: A Brief History
In order for you to understand the importance of the human factor for projects and organisations, let’s take a stroll in time and learn more about human interactions and connections.
We’ve all seen ourselves crawl from being primates all the way to (unfortunately) regaining that posture – as we sit at our desks for too long.
At the beginning of history, society was built around humans. The human social organisation was based on a set of smaller groups (tribes) defined by traditions of common descent, language, ideology, and culture.
Centuries later, laws, procedures, and policies were introduced so that individuals can be able to coexist and avoid conflicts between human social groups.
However, those laws, procedures, and policies were introduced by a group of individuals while others were following them. As a result, that social structure started to create separation and cause conflicts.
So, here is actually the beginning of the problem with human evolution as societies started to dehumanise and focus on special interests and the interests of a few individuals rather than catering for everyone’s needs.
For example, the industrial revolution created more production (and therefore more labour and workforce). But the KPI and the focus were production, productivity, and overproductivity.
So, as we know through the study of history, the humans here took a beating. Long work hours and unhealthy work conditions are just a few examples of what happened when society decided to prioritise outputs over humans.
As a result, the distance between organisations and human needs has started to increase. Unfortunately, this situation did not actually change that much. Today, the KPIs, financial pressures, and fiscal setups are still causing dynamics that feel a little bit like the industrial mindset.
Many policies and procedures are focusing on top-line revenue and cost reduction. For this reason, the human voice and human needs get lost.
Interestingly enough, this situation is just an inherited setup as it is the way it has been for the previous generations (which is, intrinsically, a wrong setup).
Prioritising KPIs over humans is causing great rifts that organisations will soon have to deal with (because the pandemic is causing major shifts that are not favourable for businesses that prioritise KPIs over humans – for example, the human factor in remote leadership is critical to overcoming social isolation).
3. Understanding The Business Environment & The Importance Of Human Factor
Now that you have a better understanding of the evolution of human interaction let’s look at the critical factors that influence the current business environment.
In the post-Covid-19 era, three key factors are determining the modern business environment:
- A drop in trust and connection
- Prioritising value
- Focus on wellness
Now, let’s analyse each of them.
As mentioned in the first section of this article, organisations have witnessed a drop in trust and connection (trust between individuals and trust between employees and employers) over the last year and a half.
At the same time, we live in a world where value is starting to be king, which is good news for the human element.
For example, in software, the cloud model has reminded organisations of the importance of service quality. Why is it so?
In the cloud model, the customer pays a subscription fee. After a specific period of time, the customer can decide either to renew or to switch that solution. When customers switch a solution after a couple of years of using the software, organisations lose money.
As a result, it is highly important for them to ensure that the customer renews the subscription. In other words, the customer is in the driver’s seat. The fact that now customers can decide on the fate of an organisation from an economic standpoint brings service quality and customer relationships back into play.
If you look at the gig economy, many of these models are driven by the fact that value is king. If organisations don’t provide real value, that value drops.
Now, if you think of a service as the interaction between humans, that starts to become extremely important. Organisations can’t just deliver a product and service and walk away, as there is an ongoing relationship aspect that depends on humans. This is why organisations need to focus on the human factor.
The other key element that relates to the current business environment is the focus on wellness. People have started to focus more on the health of their brains and bodies and ask themselves how they can be better partners and colleagues.
If you go back to the 90s, you’ll notice that there were a lot of dysfunctional behaviours, such as overworking, overtravelling, and increased levels of burnout.
Now, individuals and organisations are prioritising wellness more than they did a decade ago.
So, as you can easily notice, building genuine relationships between people and organisations has become a business imperative.
4. Putting Humans At The Centre Of A Project – 3 Examples
Below you will find three examples that outline the importance of putting humans at the centre of a project and organisation.
The key processes mentioned below are designed to bring people together to collaborate and can be applied to any industry:
Estimation is the process of figuring out how long and how much it will take to deliver a project. The estimation process is critical as projects need to be funded, planned and delivered.
So, at the very beginning of a project lifecycle, you need to predict the time, cost, and resources required to complete a project.
For many organisations, this is a dysfunctional process as they try to fit the idea they have of the project into a specific budget. Way too often, organisations perform this process without creating connections, especially because estimation is done at the very beginning when trust hasn’t been built.
Because of time, budget, and financial pressure, the teams involved in this process may have a negative experience as they have to rush to execution. Rushing to execution may remove trust in the process, which may cause rework and frustration.
The estimation process is a great example showing that the human element can lead to different (and improved) outcomes. Here is how organisations can do estimations in a more human way:
- By acknowledging that estimation is an output of groups working together. They need, therefore, to create a connection between these groups through interaction and mutual understanding.
- By removing the pressure of “speed” which allows them to build trust (trust is a long lasting element of successful engagements).
Identifying and collecting requirements is the process of figuring out what should comprise the new product or service. The “requirements process” is a key moment as it can actually make or break a project.
Understanding the requirements that will lead to a new product or service is a process during which many organisations use boxed solutions and best practices. They are trying to “guess” how the product or service should be by making assumptions and cutting corners rather than allowing an active listening process between the two parties.
As a result, the “requirements process” often fails, and it ends up being a major cost driver as rework is needed 99% of the time.
For example, they should use the design thinking methodology (a non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, and create innovative solutions) and natural language.
The launch phase is the process of bringing a new product or service to market.
The problem with the launch process is that the lack of trust and connection during the “estimation” and “requirements” processes make the launch tense – not to mention that the launch product may look different from the first idea.
However, the launch process should be the celebration of human achievement (meaning that the humans within the organisation have made the right decisions when it comes to collaboration).
So, if organisations build trust and connection, the launch stage should be a true celebration with focus on what needs attention (usually, human change management and training).
Therefore, successful launches are related to successful collaboration between people.
Conclusion: Projects and organisations have a fundamental choice to make. They need to focus on people as their strongest asset and unleash the power coming from putting humans at the centre.
Thus, to stay competitive in the current business environment, organisations need to put people at the starting point, honour human interactions, and play the infinite game (as prioritising people is an ongoing investment).
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