Over the last several weeks, our way of life as a greater society has flipped upside down. We’ve made major adaptations at home, at work, and in our individual, day-to-day lives. As leaders, we’ve had to make hard and quick decisions for those we serve; our clients, our partners, and our employees.
None of these decisions have come lightly, or without moments of pause, and all decisions have proven necessary in order to accommodate for these unprecedented times.
Here’s what the AppIt Ventures team did in response to COVID-19 and how our response helped position us for the “new normal.”
When the COVID-19 crisis initially hit, it became clear to me that we needed to evaluate our business efficiency in three major areas; our people, our process and our spending.
The Appit Ventures team was running at peak efficiency prior to the COVID-19 crisis, and we came together immediately and without missing a single step when the pandemic hit hard.
Our teams in the US, India and Costa Rica modified our work culture nearly overnight while continuing to care for our clients and our community. We were able to continue business operations with minimal impact.
I’d like to believe that this is in large part due to the continuous investment in our inclusive culture before the pandemic.
Early on, I made a commitment to my team to be fully transparent on everything happening in AppIt’s business. I strongly believed then (and still do believe), that by sharing “bad news” and being open to discussing the hard subjects, my team would be able to fully trust me when I had “good news” to share.
In addition, this open-door approach fostered a culture of transparency that allowed us to focus on caring for our clients, our community, and each other. As a leader, there’s no greater feeling than seeing your team step up to new challenges and treat them as new opportunities to make positive impacts.
The lessons I’ve learned about how to manage my team during this particular crisis (invest in culture before you need it, practice transparency to build trust, knowing how to reduce outside stressors on your team so they can stay focused on caring for your customers) are lessons that I will consistently apply in order to be prepared for the next crisis that will impact the technology sector.
I do need to pause and acknowledge that our industry (technology) was less affected than other industries, such as hospitality or food service. We are lucky to be in an industry where we were able to pivot nearly overnight.
Working remotely highlighted gaps in our process almost immediately. Our team was dedicated to shielding our clients from any of the fallout while working behind the scenes to fix what was broken as quickly as possible. This required first a foremost dedication to protecting the client experience at all costs.
Second, this required our team to have candid, open conversations about what was broken so we could brainstorm how to fix it. This is yet another reason why our intentional culture of transparency was critical for our success.
Finally, we needed to come together as a team to implement our fixes. Only a team that is dialed in, supportive of each other, and able to work together for the collective good can accomplish what we did in such a short period of time. I am incredibly proud to say that my team operates this way.
Fostering a culture of trust, accountability, and transparency paid off at a time when we were heavily reliant on each team member to bring their best. Common sense says that it’s nearly impossible to solve challenging problems under stress. There is a reason why contracts signed under duress hold no validity.
This experience has proven to me that investment in your team members, your company culture, and your clients and community creates the space for process improvements under extreme stress.
Finally, through communicating closely with my team and by gathering individual feedback, we were able to cut unnecessary spending from our budget.
We quickly consolidated our efforts, streamlined our communication, and challenged each other to step up and find creative solutions to adapt to the changes happening in real-time, cutting out anything that didn’t serve a specific and critical purpose.
Programs that had minimal use quickly went away. Every team member was empowered to research and vet new tools while implementing new and refined processes along the way.
In addition, I talked to my team about how cutting aggressively in areas that were non-essential, would provide more runway for our businesses in a worst-case scenario and ultimately help secure their positions within the company.
In totality, through this multifaceted evaluation of our people, our process, and our spending, we were all able to take a scrutinous, yet humble look at our businesses – something that we may not have done for some time if not forced to by the circumstances.
Make a Commitment
When COVID-19 hit, it became a very sobering reality that we are not in control here. As a leader, I rely on my ability to study current trends so I can make the best decisions for the future. Participating in this unprecedented time has left me disoriented around how to make the best decisions for the future.
Here’s what I do know, however. When a crisis arrives, you have a choice on how you will act, on how you will use your voice to make an impact, however small.
We began to approach every new project and initiative by asking three questions of ourselves:
Is this critical to our survival or operations?
Is this critical to our clients’ ongoing survival?
Why so or why not?
History will show us if we made the best strategic choices, but I am at ease knowing that no matter what, the team at AppIt Ventures showed up in integrity and authenticity, and we fought like hell to make a positive difference. Our character as an organization will persist long after this crisis fades, and that is to be celebrated.
Prepare to Re-Emerge From A Crazy Time
When the reality of COVID-19 set in, it quickly became clear that we needed to act fast to adapt. Over time, it’s become crystal clear that these adoptions were not just reactions to a bad situation, but that many if not all of these changes will stay with us forever and will become the new norm going forward.
It stands to reason that the habits you develop in a time of uncertainty and pressure when every decision has a direct impact on your business will become more permanent. You can’t go back in time after experiencing something like this, and you shouldn’t.
For AppIt, I now approach every new project by asking the same 3 questions and I ask my team to do the same: Is it critical to our company’s survival, is it critical to our clients’ survival, and why or why not?
For many industries, this pandemic has changed their course of business either temporarily or permanently. Even those companies that have not been directly and negatively impacted, have still experienced the sorrows of watching others around the world experience the undeniable consequences of COVID-19.
Our changes are not confined to our culture, but they have radiated in the work we’ve done since the initial coronavirus outbreak. They’ve shaped the way we approach mobile app development and web-development accounting for an even greater sense of empathy, understanding, and proactivity for clients and their end-users.
In many ways, I hope that this change in attitude and approach is something that will help us better ourselves, our work, our communities, and in our greater society.
The pandemic has brought us to face-to-face with new challenges that we never thought we’d experience. I expect the changes and new approaches that have emerged in this time to be an integral part of how we carry our business forward, hopefully never taking for granted any situation where we find ourselves temporarily free of stress or anxiety.
We expect that our company, our clients, and the greater economy will re-emerge from this crazy time not with a deep sense of anxiety, but with a newfound sense of strength, grace, and efficiency like never before.