The business environment and evolution

For a couple of years now, we have endured the debate brought about by Brexit. Add to that the uncertainty of the on-going pandemic, and the effects each of these influences have brought about within business activities of different sizes and natures have been discussed at length across different media.

It is no surprise to note that markets dealing with British (Brexit!) and International (COVID- 19!) business environments are somewhat cautious. But of course, these are only two aspects of current affairs that we have all heard about which are cause for uncertainty.

Moving on to the business environment, regularly changing operational and market demands, updates to regulations and legislation, changes in public or enterprise policies, changes in the leadership of organisations, resignations of key people within organisations, and so many other such situations bring on the need for a constant catch-up game.

In response, organisations need to review strategies and objectives, and subsequently process activities. Some of these changes are responded to reactively, while other organisations try to be smarter and tend to treat this more proactively. This turmoil and demand for evolutionary development only make matters more difficult to manage.

One of the typical symptoms is that people get scuffled in keeping up with what is expected of them. A few identified risks are an inevitable deterioration of performance, as well as difficulty in keeping up; leading to potential frustration and the possibility of people moving out of their role in search of other opportunities. This, no doubt, creates voids and weaknesses within the structure. That is when competitors strike – when your organisation is drained of the right resources (and the expertise they carry with them as a result of years of loyalty and experience building).

Organisations need to maintain a rolling, constantly reviewed plan of action – perhaps a five-year plan may be too long reaching? A shorter-term plan may be more plausible: a plan which is regularly reviewed and updated to ensure it is continually aligned with ever- changing requirements.

The effect of globalisation on the Maltese workforce

One of the more concerning issues being identified and raised by local entrepreneurs and top managers is the knock-on effect of globalisation, and the new generation’s culture in terms of job-hopping opportunities being sought. Hence the importance for companies to have processes and systems that can adapt well to this high turnover – processes that don’t require years of training to cater for the difference in our traditionally Maltese-based, loyal workforce. This is now being highly diluted.

Conventionally, training employees could span a few weeks. Employers knew they could possibly retain employees for years, if not decades. Employees where there to stay. It is somewhat different today. As a consequence, the new genre of employees is less bound to their jobs and find it easier to come and go – some possibly working only for a few months before moving on to another organisation. Most abandon their employer before they’ve had the time to settle in and return the maximum value. Employers expend effort on recruited employees for coverage of induction training and developing their skills to fit their assigned role.

With the exodus being a constant battle to fight, possible mitigation is for business managers to seek ways to deskill certain activities and make tasks as independent of loyalty and proficiency as possible. The keywords here are process simplification. As a result of this scenario, business managers can no longer fully rely on the experienced craft, trade or capability of the individual they may have employed 10 years earlier.

Several of my clients – employers – have expressed their concern in lack of employable talent.

Uncertainty, fluidity and transformation

Immaterial of the executional model of the business, the value and quality of the ultimate service/product offering must not affect the customer experience. Maximising on efficiency and effectiveness of the operations are significant factors for success.

With the constant factor of change and turnover of workforce discussed above, which is acting against sustained stability and creates an air of uncertainty and fluidity within the business environment, calls for careful management of the situation.

It is high time that organisations realise the need to transform their business model, not only to one that is more aligned with the current demands, but rather, a model that is capable of evolving to other unknowns brought about by the future state. Holding on to the traditional business model is a fate that sees its days being counted out, fast.

Top management need to accept the fact that operational activities need constant review. Business evolution is a reality, operating within an everchanging environment. We feel that the simplification of processes and restricting these to the core value-adding activities simplifies the effort of evolution. When it comes to the technology component, legacy solutions may be a challenge to update, make changes, or adaptations to. However, through the application of more flexible technology tools, a mixed integration model of flexible technologies may facilitate the automation of specific activities and tasks. With simplified methodologies, fully defined and streamlined processes to optimise execution effort, and with the right level of technology to facilitate the operational aspects, future organisational survival stands a better chance.

Business process diagnosis, streamlining and re-design, supported by the organisational dynamics necessary, is what I believe brings in real value to organisations. Working with clients, and introducing the right level of transformation best suited to the business gives best return on energy spent: making business organisations ready for future challenges, through leading dynamic evolution.

Ing. Joseph Micallef is a freelance Consulting Advisor, bringing with him over 30 years’ worth of experience across various sectors. Working in areas related with quality, lean, business process transformation and project execution and programme management, he can be contacted directly on m +356 9982 2244 or e: [email protected]


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