Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members


The human civilization was progressing uninterrupted, in its own pace when a deadly virus outbreak transformed the world forever. The crisis compelled the whole world to work together as a single entity and suddenly collaborations were formed to find out the best way forward for all.

The same synergy resonated in most business organizations that were now forced to choose between “pivot or perish” due to the large-scale disruptions caused by the pandemic. Tata Steel BSL met the challenge head on and formed a task force to create and implement a new framework – “Kavach” that would enable the company to flourish in the “New Normal”. Here’s sharing four actions from TSBSL learnings that organizations can imbibe to formulate a better response plan for future disruptions.

Use peer networks to alter employee behavior

Changing employee behavior is the key to implement any new measure in an organization. TSBSL’s Kavach chose a common vocabulary to drive change. They didn’t try to change employee behavior through the usual top-down approach. Instead, they formed small groups of employees called employee pods. The middle management would be in touch with the ground workers and understand the problems that they were facing.

Emails, messages and social media channels as well as on ground posters were used to communicate the new rules to the employees. Each employee pod became a small peer network with a selected leader who would ensure that the individual pod members follow the new rules, in order to foster peer accountability and drive behavior changes.

The initial stage of implementing new protocols witnessed failures and struggles but eventually when the employees realized the advantages of bringing the change and peer accountability set in, the change was successfully implemented.

Unlock value by large-scale adoption of digital

With the wide acceptance of Industry 4.0 large-scale digital adoption is inevitable for organizations. Large-scale adoption of digital enables implementation and monitoring of new protocols and allows tapping into the full potential of the employees. By including line managers in the digital framework, the processes are improved with their feedback which also helps in getting their buy-in. It also reduces business friction and fast-tracks adoption of the new ways.

Adopting a systems-thinking approach helps in boosting outcomes. TSBSL generated better results by using systems thinking to link several applications and digital solutions. Additionally, it amplifies the power of analysis, helping the organization in making informed decisions in the future.

Implementing mechanisms that allow capturing data in real-time from multiple sources allows companies to harness insights to the fullest. Analyzing the data collected from multiple sources at once enables the management to make effective interventions to accelerate and improve adoption of change.

Accept ambiguity to drive organizational agility

For effective crisis-management, speed is extremely essential. Organizations can’t spend time just deliberating the course of action or wait to test processes elaborately. The top executives must adopt new practices with and watch out for the results and then go for full-fledged rollouts and be ready to course -correct, as and when required.

Like agile startups, organizations must also embrace a “minimum viable product mindset” as it increases speed. Organizations must redesign to make smaller team units in order to increase nimbleness. It helps in bringing flexibility in operations and alter processes as per requirement.

Democratize innovation

To thrive in the future, companies must be as innovative as possible. Just like agility begins at the top, innovation must come from the frontline workers. When organizations enable the ground level workers to be innovative the company’s ways of working improve significantly. To truly democratize innovation, organizations must create mechanisms that can identify and scale innovations and finally, allow collaborations to mainstream those innovations at scale.

These insights although derived from implementing a new framework “Kavach” to mitigate the risks of the pandemic, can be quite beneficial for businesses who want to rethink their ways of working to make their organization more resilient for the world beyond Covid-19.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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