Article: Rebuilding a business in a pandemic is not a sprint but a marathon: Guy Kawasaki, Canva

Strategic HR

Rebuilding a business in a pandemic is not a sprint but a marathon: Guy Kawasaki, Canva

What does Guy Kawasaki advocate to build businesses stronger during this pandemic in order to dent the universe? Read on to know the top pointers he shared at People Matters TechHR 2020.
Rebuilding a business in a pandemic is not a sprint but a marathon: Guy Kawasaki, Canva

“The word evangelist comes from a Greek word meaning the good news. At Macintosh, I was bringing the good news on how to make people more productive. And now I am at Canva, doing the same,” shared Silicon Valley legend Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist, Canva in his keynote at TechHR 2020. 

Guy spoke on the HR Leaders’ role in accelerating business growth, unlocking people’s potential & the role of Technology. He said, “We are in a very interesting time and it presents many challenges to organizations.”

And what does Guy advocate to build businesses, build them stronger or in Steve Jobs’ words-‘dent the universe.’ 

Here are his top 11 pointers for rebuilding businesses in the middle of the pandemic-

Run the right race

The first thing is to have the right perspective of what are we facing. And we are not in a sprint. It’s a sprint when times are good and people are investing. But right now we really don’t know when will there be a vaccine or a medical technology that will fix it. So a proper mental framework for any employee should be that it is not a 100m sprint, it is a marathon. So mentally you have to put yourself in this mindset-that this is for the long haul.

Give benefit of doubt 

In these times, when most people are working from home, the model of management should be to always give your employees the benefit of doubt. People have kids around them, they have to be fed, and they have to be online at a certain time. So right now is the time to give employees the benefit of doubt that they are trustworthy, they are not goofing around, and assume the best about your employees. Because if you start monitoring them, you might have a better idea of how they are spending the day but the message that you send to them will be so negative.

Make Meaning

People want to be part of something that’s larger than themselves. It’s not just about making a buck. It’s about making meaning and how are you making the world a better place. And to keep that message going through your organization that it is not about just making money, but how you impact the lives of the customers. For instance, the brand Apple is not about selling devices but about increasing people’s productivity and creativity. Similarly, Google is not about selling ads but has truly democratized information. Similarly, Canva is about democratizing design.  So remember the meaning you make and remind your employees.

Jump to the next curve

Even now in the middle of the pandemic, innovation counts. Arguably, innovation may count even more now because we are in a tough slog. The way you differentiate your organization from the others is that you are jumping the next curve which means you are still innovating. Great innovation can occur even during a pandemic and it is a matter of jumping to the next curve, not simply staying on the same curve and doing things better, faster, and cheaper. Customers can help you make the current curve better but the next curve will come from your passions and your insights.

Don’t depend on miracles

Guy has a very low opinion of wishful thinking that somehow a miracle will occur. It has taken years to develop a vaccine but a miracle will occur. But Guy believes that you should not depend on what is called a white knight who at the very last minute saves everything. Don’t assume it is going to happen. It’s time to be realistic that it is going to take a lot of hard work and don’t build your business strategy on the foolish assumption that a miracle will occur. Miracles do occur sometimes but to depend on a miracle is a very foolish strategy. 

Be transparent and real

If there was ever a time to be transparent and real, it is now. Because so much is aground and so many organizations and people are facing challenges, now is the time to be honest with your employees. There is a thing such as toxic positivity where you are always saying it will work out, the miracle will occur. But there is a line between positivity and toxic positivity where people know that things might not work out and that you are making it up. You need to avoid toxic positivity as much as you avoid toxic negativity. Don’t be delusional and positive, let’s be real.

Share the upside

You are going to ask a lot from your current employees. They are going to be working under difficult if not depressing conditions. So if ever there was time to use equity and stock options as motivation, this is it. If you are asking employees to go above the call of duty, you should reward them with the potential upside of the company. So you should be very generous with your stock right now. 

Do the dirty jobs

This is the time to do the dirty jobs. Or the stuff that we never had time to do before. Gaining new skills, training, writing the documentation that you never had time to do before, learning new technologies-this is the time. Because at some point, the economy will turn around. It will be great if we had all the dirty jobs done and came out of the pandemic stronger than we went into it.

Ignore naysayers

Guy recommends that you ignore naysayers. You cannot listen to people who say that it can’t be done or it should not be done or that it is not necessary. Suspend your assumption that because so-called rich and famous people are saying it can’t be done, so it can’t be done. It is extremely dangerous to ask a successful person on one curve about what he thinks of the next curve.

Ask, “Therefore, what?”

This is the most important question that HR could ask, management could ask, and each employee could ask-“therefore what?” Look at the insights in your industry, your product or service and look at the conditions- be it pandemic, economy, cybersecurity or whatever it is- and based on what you see, ask what opportunities do you see happening, and therefore what next? Just like now in the pandemic, kids are not going back to school and are being educated virtually. Therefore what are the opportunities in online education? Thus this question will help you figure out how to jump to the next curve.

Get high and right

This is Guy’s explanation of what the goal of an organization should really be-and really what a person’s goal should be-get high and right. The following graph illustrates that in order to be unique and valuable, you have to be on the upper right side-just like the iPod was when it came out. So a unique and valuable product, service, or being a unique and valuable employee should be your goal- it is the holy grail of life!



So remember, rebuilding business in a pandemic is not a sprint but a marathon!

Read full story

Topics: Strategic HR, #TechHRSG

Did you find this story helpful?



How do you envision AI transforming your work?

Your opinion matters: Tell us how we're doing this quarter!

Selected Score :