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By Josh Gilmore; President & CEO of Gilmore
If your email inbox or LinkedIn feed looks anything like mine over the last several days, you have no shortage of opportunities to read year-end pontifications and new year projections. Spending much time reflecting on a year unlike any in our lifetime doesn’t seem to be of too much use. As for projections, a review of the tea leaf reading of the wisest among us from 12 months ago would no-doubt call into question the intelligence of making any guesses whatsoever as to what’s in store for 2021.
That said, a tumultuous year like 2020 provides new perspectives and fresh ideas to consider as we embark on a new year. It is the responsibility of leaders to plan for the future using the best available information, then adjust as Father Time reveals the reality. Hopefully the pivots we make in the coming year will be significantly less abrupt than last.
First it seems appropriate to recognize the blessings the last twelve months brought to the Gilmore team. We were once again fortunate to serve amazing clients, to attract wonderful new employees while saying “so long” to some great friends, and to continue growing in the face of turmoil. I continue to be amazed by the people I’m fortunate enough to call teammates. Most importantly, we experienced no life-threatening virus cases among our staff or immediate families. We have much for which to be thankful, and look to 2021 with optimism.
“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be of much use to be anything else.”
- Winston S. Churchill
I love famous quotes, and am a huge fan of Churchill. Stoicism, in particular, seems a valuable approach in these challenging times.
While it remains to be seen if many of the trends that emerged along with the epidemic prove resilient, it’s clear to me that some will prove particularly impactful for years to come.
Organizational agility -
The phrase “Adapt or die” has been spoken in business circles since, well forever, but 2020 taught us all the extent to which “adapting” could become necessary. The pace of change is said to be accelerating, and it’s a difficult point to dispute. The future will most-assuredly favor those with the vision to recognize changes large and small occurring around them, and the organizational fortitude to respond quickly and effectively.
One of the most detrimental organizational characteristics in this regard is concentration of day-to-day operational decision making in too few people. When leaders have their head down in the details it’s very difficult to elevate to the strategic on a dime. While this tunnel vision might prove fatal during a major event, its impact can be just as lethal to the potential of an organization over the long haul - like the “death by a thousand cuts” of missed opportunities and unrealized potential.
The Entrepreneurial Operating System, better known simply as EOS and detailed in books by Gino Wickman, has provided Gilmore with the framework to support our strategic planning, growth and execution in recent years. I encourage everyone with the responsibility of leading an organization to take a look at EOS.
Remote work -
Time will tell if some of the prognostications of numerous businesses with no headquarters and employees working exclusively from vacation rentals and Airstream campers will pan out, but it seems clear we’re going to experience a lasting shift in the ways many of us work. Managing people that spend a significant amount of their time working away from the office poses some new challenges. Opportunities are also beginning to come into focus, including the potential to attract talent that may have been unavailable before, and for employees to better balance professional needs with personal priorities.
Technology can and will facilitate this more “untethered” reality. By making strategic investments to support the capabilities you and your team need when working remotely you can gain the additional benefit of ensuring continuity of operations in uncertain times.
The key is to clearly understand the needs of your organization and the clients you seek to serve, then put an intelligent plan in place to meet those needs with technology. Depending on the starting point it may take several quarters or years to achieve your goals, but using a strategic approach will ensure success. We’re particularly excited about some significant investments we’ve recently made to facilitate more consistent strategic communication, planning and alignment with our inFocus managed IT clients.
Security of everything -
Cyber security certainly isn’t a concern that arrived with the virus. Supporting remote work without sacrificing security is paramount, and of course the bad guys are making every effort to take advantage. In case anyone thought that security threats might subside as 2020 came to a close, recent disclosures that a number of federal government agencies and some of the largest private companies in the U.S. were infiltrated as far back as March, and only recently became aware, should quickly put any of those ideas to rest.
We’re not running federal agencies or large multinational corporations, but the cyber security landscape is nonetheless the single most significant threat to our business, and very likely yours as well. Cyber security will remain a primary focus in all strategic discussions with our clients, and a significant area of investment as the threat landscape continues to evolve.
While prevention of an incident is certainly the goal, it’s clear that risk management via cyber insurance is a critical mitigating component that every business must consider. Unfortunately there appears to be no end in sight when it comes to the risk posed by bad cyber actors.
These are just a sampling of the “big ideas” that we see impacting our clients and our own business in the coming year. The Gilmore team stands ready to help you face challenges and seize opportunities, and we wish you health and success in the New Year.