As we head into the partially sunny, vaccinated world of the post-pandemic era, there is an itch to get back to what normal now looks like. For many of us, a lot of it revolves around seeing people in three dimensions again. We will carefully re-establish our face-to-face relationships (and for a while longer, mask to mask).
Once this is done, we should spend some time thinking about the answer to a fundamental question that will guide us on our journey:
What have we learned?
I will not attempt to answer this in a broader geopolitical sense. By limiting ourselves to our current activity, what have we learned from our professional work and from our professional colleagues? Despite the COVID outbreaks and the economic challenges that followed, we came out of all of that changed, and yet remarkably the same in many ways.
One thing is certain: we are more resilient than we expected. With a problem-solving attitude, we created new ways of doing our jobs and developed new channels to access the materials we needed to complete our jobs.
We have relied on digital technology, not as a fad or a test, but as a way forward in our businesses. We understood the power of digital manufacturing and sensors and robots. Digital transformation – a topic Machine design We’ll discuss it in more detail this summer – has taken hold over the past 14 months and has shown us new things about our work and workforce that we might have suspected.
We innovated out of necessity, and through innovation, we found the ability to change as quickly as needed to meet the immediate challenge. It is only now that we can step back and observe this rate of change that we can truly appreciate the magnitude of the change that has taken place, both in our systems and in ourselves.
Not everything worked out, of course, and among those things we’ve learned is what to keep in the midst of all this change and what ideas we can throw out. Still, the timeline for trial and error is much shorter than if we had time to think about such a change.
We have learned to trust our instincts and our people. We have found in our workforce a resilient spirit and a determined dedication to overcoming obstacles. It was not all under our control, but the whole time I marveled at how much we have actually accomplished and how much we have been able to preserve and even improve.
It is too optimistic to say that we have benefited from this shared global experience. There are still too many walls and barriers. But in our factories and our teams, we have done our best to meet and exceed the individual challenges we face every day, and this is something we can be extremely proud of.
But these are my answers to the question. Every organization should use the past year to see where we can find success and value for the future or for our work. At every inflection point of change in our history, we have seen our teams take a deep breath and continue their activities. In change we find a new perspective, an incentive to grow and improve in what we do.
What have we learned? Definitely more than we wanted. But this lesson also raises another question: what’s next?