Life may be a marathon, but innovation is a never-ending series of sprints.
As 2022 progresses, companies are sprinting into a much-changed, ever-changing world. Web3, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies present opportunities for early adopters and threats to unbelievers. The pandemic continues to throw office standards into question. Geopolitical turmoil raises questions about sovereignty—and the world markets that rely on it.
The overarching question for modern companies: How can you keep pace in a world so constantly rocked by major changes?
The full answer will look different for every company. But at its core, every answer begins with “Know thyself.”
There has never been a better moment for an organization-wide temperature check. What are your strengths and how can you amplify them? What are your weaknesses and how can you develop them? What kind of force do you want your company to be in the world and how are you going to make that happen?
Here are the four questions every CEO needs to ask themselves in 2022.
1. Is my team fully aligned on where we’re headed and how we’re measuring success?
Total alignment creates unity of purpose. It means everyone, regardless of seniority, is pulling their oars in the same direction. Does everyone in your organization share the same vision of success—and know how to measure it?
Getting to alignment means:
- Establishing clear vertical and horizontal communication
- Developing a culture of peer collaboration, not competition
- Revealing misalignments that people might be reluctant to share
- Soliciting feedback, and including it in statements of company purpose
- Celebrate wins—let people know when they’ve done a good job
2. Do we have a concrete plan in place for remote/hybrid work?
Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. companies have or will have a permanent hybrid work model. COVID made it a necessity; for many, habit made it a preference. There’s no one-size-fits-all remote/hybrid work plan. Do you have one?
To develop a remote/hybrid work plan:
- Figure out what tasks need to happen in-person—plus what employees prefer to do in-person
- For leaders, understand when your team needs you most, and how to make yourself available
- Especially for remote-heavy workplaces, establish consistent one-on-one meetings to sustain meaningful contact with employees
- Create accountability metrics that rely on qualitative and qualitative metrics
3. What are our knowledge gaps, and what are we doing about them?
Knowing what you don’t know—and what you don’t do well that you need to do well—is higher-order business thinking. No single organization can possess all competencies. Thus, you need to assess which are most important to continued success, and if you lack them, how to develop them.
- First, identify gaps. You can’t achieve success without defining it first—which is why, in step 1, you defined your objectives. Knowing what they are, what tools do you need realize your vision of success? Which tools do you have, and which do you still need to acquire?
- Then, decide how to fill in the gaps. There are five key methods of filling in knowledge gaps: hiring new people, investing in internal skill-building, contracting freelancers, redeploying employees, and releasing employees. What skills can you afford to hire? Which can you gain through contracting? Will you need to get leaner before making new additions?
We’ve been seeing this a lot in the medtech industry in the form of outsourcing. Specialized partners are helping close efficiency gaps by taking on R&D and manufacturing for both startups and giants in the medical space. In fact, medical device contract manufacturing is projected to grow past $97 billion by 2027 (almost double its 2020 mark).
4. Are we actively working to create a culture that reflects our values?
“Culture” is a nebulous term, but by now, it’s well-understood that a strong company culture is integral to success. A healthy culture is like clean air; an unhealthy culture is like noxious fumes. What are your values? Does your culture reflect them? If not, how can you change that? If so, how could it reflect them even more clearly?
Some basic steps toward a healthy culture:
- Identify common traits and values that your employees hold in high regard
- Unite your team members around a shared language—unique terms and rules that define organizational behavior
- Develop concrete procedures for bringing your organizational principles to life
A world in flux will leave companies behind who don’t proactively adjust. Remember: You got where you are because you wanted to work at the speed of the world—if not stay ahead of it. As you prepare for your next sprint, take your pulse, rehydrate, stretch, and get ready to put your feet back on the starting block.