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Salesforce Blog: Why Purpose Is Critical to Your Transformation and COVID-19 Response

Before COVID-19, transformation was the buzzword of the decade. Yet, the global pandemic has thrust digital transformation to the forefront. Companies, leaders, and employees are rethinking how to work, conduct business, and go to market virtually. With mounting pressure for businesses to digitise, the road to transformation is clear, but littered with challenges.

This is where work.com comes into play. It’s designed to help organisations reopen and recover from crises safely. For instance, you can access the latest COVID-19 data, learn from inspiring stories, and get products to support your return to the workplace. We also released the COVID-19 response playbook to inform owners how to stabilise their business and prepare for the next normal.

Technology enables growth, but it is culture and behaviour that will drive success. This cannot be left to the wayside.

Helping customers prepare for the next normal

I recently sat down with two experts to discuss what they are experiencing with customers across Europe. The first is Narinder Sahota. He is a Senior Director at Salesforce who leads transformation engagements with our top customers. My second guest speaker is Rosie Warin. She is the CEO of Kin & Co, a consultancy that does Purpose and Culture-led change management.

We spoke about how they are helping customers prepare for the next normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic. How can we adapt to a changing workforce? What are the best ways for business owners to navigate a new and uncharted landscape?

In this two-part series, Rosie and Narinder explain the state of transformation in our current market, the obstacles leaders are facing, and how organisations can handle an uncharted business landscape.

How is COVID-19 having an impact on how we think about transformation?

Rosie Warin: Every single company today is undergoing a transformation. Whether they had started pre-COVID-19 or not, the pandemic has forced new challenges and requirements on every facet of the business. Transformation is already happening to every business. We know technology is important, but there needs to be a shift toward humans and purpose. They should be at the heart of every transformation in a really thoughtful way.

You can have the best technology, the best processes, and the best systems. But if employees can’t or don’t want to use it, you’re not going to transform. And we know that 70% of transformations fail. And 70% of those are due to these nuanced, cultural reasons. So it’s a huge missed opportunity if you don’t invest in this.

Narinder Sahota:
I completely agree with that. We’ve seen incredible innovation and change get implemented in mere weeks. As we move into this next phase, it is critical to focus on seizing opportunities. But also be aware that your previous target audience is not the same today.

The question shifts from, ‘how do we do better?’ to:
What will we become in this new world?
What’s our new unique selling proposition?
What’s our new destination?

The level of change we are experiencing today is only going to get faster. The successful companies of the future will not only have answers to those questions, but also a clear purpose and the ability to continually adapt to change.

How do purpose and values enable organisational transformation?

RW: Traditionally, transformation has been very top-down. But nowadays, purpose needs to sit at the heart of every transformation. This is for the simple reason that if you all believe in the same idea and are moving in the same direction, then you are so much more open to change. Your collective mindset is more pliable. It’s about understanding why we are transforming and the purpose for why we are undertaking a massive challenge. That drives successful culture change.

NS: I agree that understanding ‘why’ is key. And now that we are in a state of flux, it’s the perfect time to crystallise that higher purpose and direction. Salesforce is a dynamic company that transforms continually. And we focus on ensuring that we move in the same direction as a company.

COVID-19 has forced us to find new ways to help our customers during this challenging time. Yet, it’s that higher purpose, our values-driven organisation, that continues to fuel the same success that has helped us grow over the last 20 years. When you become a large organisation, the distance to executives gets even further. And it becomes more and more critical to help cascade that purpose transformation. This is where our V2MOM process is so powerful and why we have a COVID-19 V2MOM.

How can we help workforces adapt to the changes caused by COVID-19?

RW: Workforces are also changing, especially now that so many employees are working remotely full-time. To facilitate successful organisations, you have to put time and effort into creating personal connections. This is emotional work! You can’t roll out a purpose transformation the same way you can roll out an IT strategy.

NS: Yes! At Salesforce, we’ve been providing leaders and employees tools to create deep connections. This enables teams to work together and be honest about what’s working and what’s not, before even deciding what the project is. It’s all about building trust, which is the most important part of working in constant change and ambiguity.

How can leaders close the gap between creating a vision and making it into a reality?

NS: There is space between the why and the how we get there. If you tell people why there is a change, you don’t need to prescribe how that is achieved. This is where Enterprise Agility comes in really nicely; it’s a mindset that inverts command and control. It positions leaders as the creators of the right environment and empowers teams to be creative in finding the right solutions. This helps everyone move faster and we know that speed is one of the most critical elements of work today.

RW: I completely agree and we call that “freedom within a framework.” But I also believe that there is personal freedom in how we interpret the why. A big part of the work we do with customers is helping them find personal purpose. For instance, what drives and motivates them and how can they connect this to their organisation’s purpose. And when those click, it is magic!

Learn more about the digital transformation and how you can reopen your business safely with work.com.

June 2020


June 2021