By Paul J. SIregar
State of ﬂux
The truth is that the new normal is not even set yet. The word normal means “standard” (noun) or “regular” (adjective).
Now, we are seeing things converging into something more “regular”, such as people going around wearing face masks. Yet, it does not mean that things may not change and more adjustments to our lives will not be introduced. To be honest, while trying to ﬁgure out what the new normal is and how to cope with it, one may be wishing that it will resemble more of what we were used to. For instance, most (if not all) business models are based on the normal we knew (such as walk-in restaurants or hypermarkets and in-person conventions) and the term “new normal” has the potential of forcing us to reevaluate the existing business model and accept the reality that it should change dramatically. What if it becomes impossible for us to return to the business model we were used to?
As we are still going through this evolving evolution from the old normal to a new normal, we in Indonesia managed to pick up some important lessons.
Accept the new reality
In the beginning when the government sanctioned large-scale physical distancing limitation, we were hoping that these restrictive measures will end in one to two months’ time. As Covid-19 cases kept increasing, within the ﬁrst couple of weeks we realized this is going to be a long drawn-out aﬀair and we felt that we had no choice but to, as Dale Carnegie puts it, “cooperate with the inevitable”. So, we asked ourselves: “What can we do to keep serving our clients while not being able to conduct business in person?” That question has become a constant refrain in all our management meetings.
Adapt quickly to the new reality
With our China market going into lockdown in early February, the Dale Carnegie headquarter quickly initiated the switch from in-person training to online training. When the ﬁrst registered coronavirus case appeared in Indonesia on 2 March, Dale Carnegie global had already started the initiative to certify 1,000 trainers worldwide in digital training. We promptly started the process in Indonesia and by the end of April, 19 of our trainers have undergone and completed the digital trainer certiﬁcation process. We also created a digital team that consists of our sales managers and marketing head to further guide the process. By May, we have delivered 16 webinars with over 1,000 people in attendance. Since then, we have converted all our face-to-face public programs into live online sessions and developed two new programs speciﬁcally for online delivery. We are glad we quickly embraced the initiative. Now, there are 28 certiﬁed digital trainers delivering various live online webinars, workshop and training sessions.
Adopt ideas from others
Since the start of the pandemic, Dale Carnegie Asia Paciﬁc region members meet about once a month to share and learn from each other. We took note of what works and what does not in these sharing sessions. When there is a success story, we quickly think about the ways to replicate it in our individual markets. We also have the Southeast Asian sub-region group that meets once a fortnight and basically does the same thing but much more intimately. With the close proximity and similarity of culture, there are more ideas to be learnt and shared. In fact, we go even further by helping each other with promotional events. With all these sources of ideas, we keep learning new approaches to marketing and promotion, as well as picking up new techniques and technologies to deliver the best live online training to our clients. In Indonesia, we bring this sharing and learning practice to our sales, operations and trainer meetings. Not a day goes by that we do not learn something new.
As things are constantly evolving, we cannot assume that there will be a ﬁxed way of doing things. The Indonesian government is constantly monitoring the situation and modifying its policy every two weeks. This impacts businesses all over the country. In response to that, our digital team discusses what needs to be adjusted and decides on the steps to be taken. In one case, we had an event that after being postponed a couple of times in the hope that it could be done face to face, could not be delayed any longer and had to take place by July. But there was no standard process or protocol in place to do that online. So, a team of digital trainers put their heads together and devised new ways to make it work. The results were very good. By May, we realized that our clients are also changing in terms of their needs, requests and requirements. One client s ﬁne with using WebEx, which Dale Carnegie uses globally, as the platform for the live online training. Another client prefers Zoom. Another wants to use Microsoft Teams. And another uses BlueJeans. We got our digital trainers and digital producers to train and practice on diﬀerent platforms to meet those requirements. Most probably in the future, some other clients will suggest using other novel online platform that we would not be familiar with. They keep us on our toes and that is why we have to keep on learning.
Most important lesson of all – Teamwork is key
At the national level, all our operations in Indonesia now work closer together than ever. It is quite enlightening to realize that Covid-19 has a silver lining: it has brought us closer. Before the March lockdown, our national sales leaders and marketing head met only twice a year. Now, we meet online every week. This weekly meeting now includes the heads of information technology, ﬁnance and administration.
In the past, we spent months to plan and used hundreds millions of rupiah to bring our teams together for a national meeting. With virtual conferencing, we can do that almost at a moment’s notice at virtually no cost. Of course, the immediacy and rapport that comes easily with a physical meeting is absent. But these online meetings catalyze organizational synergy. All this frequent coordination and brainstorming enable us to be far more agile to respond to changing business environments and clients’ needs. In conclusion, as the end is nowhere in sight, we are obliged to navigate the new normal with an open mind to keep learning, adapting, adopting, adjusting and working together.