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Designing a Human Enterprise in Times of Change

In 2020, Covid-19 disrupted the way organizations around the world functioned, forcing them to step out of their comfort zone and adopt new strategies to stay competitive in the market. The epidemic has highlighted the dangers presuming that you can go from point A to point B in a straight line, that companies have years, not months or weeks, to reconsider outmoded beliefs and build new ones. We have all learned it the hard way, in a constantly changing environment, the paths and time periods for accomplishing one's goals must be flexible and more importantly, it requires a fundamental adjustment in mindset: from survival to thriving.


The focus on survival in constantly changing environment limits one's imagination to accepting a new reality. Changes are viewed as one-time emergencies that must be resolved, with the expectation that organizations would return to "business as usual" once the crisis has passed. The survival mindset makes organizations attempt to deal with the realities that the world imposes. While, in contrast, a thriving mindset orients companies to accept each new reality and use it to rethink norms and assumptions in previously unimaginable ways. A thriving attitude realizes that disruption is ongoing rather than episodic, and it views disruption as a stimulus for progress.


In my belief, shifting organizational mindsets from survive to thrive requires an organization to become and stay distinctly human at its core.

This isn't simply a new way of thinking or acting. It's a different way of being, one that looks at every topic, every problem, and every decision through the eyes of a human being. And it's not simply a good idea; it's a requirement for better business outcomes. The dynamic world necessitates a level of boldness, judgment, and flexibility that only humans can provide. Algorithms and equations can effectively deal with a predictable reality but even in an age of increasingly intelligent machines, a probabilistic world cannot be avoided.


The heart of what it means to be a human enterprise is to be unmistakably human at its core. An organization that grounds itself in a set of human principles to combine revenue growth and profit-making with respect and support for its environment and stakeholders: purpose and meaning, ethics and fairness, growth and passion, collaboration and relationships, and transparency and openness. The human emphasis that these principles bring to an organization is what allows a human enterprise to thrive—to constantly reinvent itself in the face of constant change.



As businesses transition from surviving to thriving, solutions must become more dynamic in order to better complement the human characteristics that allow the larger organization to thrive - and become more human centric.


Integrating work and well-being

Rather of treating well-being with separate programs, integrating employees' physical, mental, financial, and social health into the design of work itself. Including well-being in the design of the workplace allows employees to feel good while at work, not simply when they're not. This is beneficial for both employers and employees: employment that fulfills the human desire for quality of life can drive employees to give their best on the job.


Promote life long learning not just reskilling

Give employees choice as a tool for promoting learning, adaptation, and impact. Giving employees more flexibility over the work they do and the learning opportunities they pursue can boost employee engagement by allowing them to focus their efforts on areas that are important to them. Aligning employees' passions and interests with organizational goals can also boost performance, because employees get more motivated and involved in their job and learning.

Transform the standard training curricula into resources to promote skills for organizing, guiding, and controlling one’s own thinking, actions, and learning processes. Instead of just pushing knowledge through long hours of live sessions or elearnings - teach them how to learn and put it in practice in the flow of their work.


Catering to today’s need for updated knowledge requires a learning model based on “learning how to learn” rather than the simple transfer of knowledge. The priorities in corporate learning have shifted: The World Economic Forum reported the top 10 skills required for the future, which included critical thinking, self-management, resilience, creativity, leadership, and emotional intelligence amongst others. A few of these skills such as self-management and resilience were not on previous lists, giving us a clear picture of what organizations require to maintain their competitive edge.


Make technology an enhancer of human capabilities

This implies forming teams that employ technology to improve natural human working methods - so that it makes the most of people's distinctly human skills through the intelligent application of technology. Enabling teams to pursue new and better outcomes at greater speed and scale, from collaboration tools that improve teaming and connection.


Making the workplace more human; promoting individual wellbeing, developing life long learning and making technology a tool to strengthen the need for belonging - are must win challenges for companies that will thrive amidst the uncertainty of our times.



Manas Agarwal

Bessern Associate


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