#BusinessVsCovid19 - A test of agility for Agile Consulting and Innovation agencies?

A growing community of innovation agencies specializes in design thinking and design sprint workshops where an interdisciplinary team comes together supported by coaches to rethink business models and find solutions. They come out with solutions, products, and features within 5 days. A large number of companies have taken up these workshop formats and it is served by a growing network of coaches, facilitators, and agencies.  With the recent restrictions, this means all agencies who support companies with such workshop formats need to rethink and adapt their business models.

I got an opportunity to have a conversation with Florian Rustler the author of "Denkwerkzeuge", "Innovationskultur der Zukunft" and  "Future fit company” who also is the founder of Creaffective - a Munich based consultancy which has a bouquet of offerings that help companies become future-ready and become agile and innovative organizations. But what happens when the company itself needs to adapt to the sudden changes in the market where companies cannot even think of the future or what happens 1 month down the line.

How can an agile consulting company itself transform its priorities with agility? 

The immediate impact on the innovation workshop business 

leverist.de - Florian, what is the immediate impact that you see on your business? 

Florian - Very severe, most of our work involves bringing people together in a single room in a workshop or group setting. The majority of that is canceled, put on hold or severely hit. Since we were already working remotely we were able to adapt quickly to the restrictions and started working 100% remote. We are offering the remote workshop model to most of our clients to which there is a mixed response. Some companies have to first deal with more urgent business continuity problems. There are some challenges and opportunities for the innovation consulting and workshop agencies - 


Challenges

Opportunities

There are lot of solutions for remote workshops and digital whiteboard and collaboration tools, but we can´t use many of them due to company data privacy and EU GDPR regulations. 

There are huge advantages to doing workshops online as they are easily shareable and transparently visible to everyone in the team. 

Not every analog experience can be translated into an online experience. Especially a design sprint workshop. So we have reduced our workshop timings to 10:00 AM -3:30 PM because by this time most people are already exhausted. 

The crisis has led to the acceleration of many processes. Companies are much more receptive to many technologies and methods which was impossible just a month back

The human interaction and face to face feedback component of workshops are hugely missing

Young professionals are adapted to remote working really fast and it's really a joy to work with them together. We are able to progress very fast. 


Photo: #workspacegoals Florian´s control panel for running really awesome online design sprint workshops. His company has moved to online design sprint workshops

Impact on  the client base of innovation agencies

leverist.de - what has been the impact across your client base? 
Florian - We see a broad range of impact across industries. All of us are aware that many automobile companies have halted operations and production and that is the same with our clients. Some media/tv/broadcast companies have switched to home office and crisis mode. With them, some of our workshops are still in progress. The least affected are the software companies and it seems to be business as usual for them. The KfW for example operating in a crisis intervention mode and everyone who can work from home except for some key functions is doing so. So essentially we can see a broad range of impact and it has changed the way we operate.

leverist.de - what are the major steps that you have taken at your company to deal with the market changes?
Florian - We took three main steps :

  • We worked on our business continuity  - which was easy as we were adapted to work remotely already
  • Applied for “kurzarbeitergeld” - the support from the government because our business model is dependent on the billing of consulting days to our customers and we do not have the substitute. It took us a few days to figure that out but we are sorted out now.
  • We quickly started strategizing and deciding upon the operations that we would still be continuing and started strongly developing online alternatives to our services. 

Advice to companies on adjusting to current environment with agility

Florian :

  • Trust your people: its a new mode of work for many companies as well as employees. Place trust in your people as they adjust to this mode of work and create opportunities for feedback and open communication
  • Run experiments: create time bound experiments and take iterative approaches towards new changes
  • Maintain connections: Although the teams no longer sit together, find ways to connect on a personal level. 
  • Be transparent: share with your employees what is going on and about the latest developments so that they can make better decisions. 


Florian Rustler is an author of three books, Future Fit Company Coach and founder of Munich based consulting agency - Creaffective. His books are "Denkwerkzeuge", "Innovationskultur der Zukunft" and "Future Fit Company"

By : 

Saptarshi Baksi 
Product Innovation and Marketing consultant – leverist.de | Design Thinker

rishiwrk@gmail.com | Linkedin


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