My first 100 days: I have learned a lot, I am still learning a lot - By Tatiana Coviello, Group Chief People Officer
Between learning and doing, in the "new normal"
Our "doing" is turning into "learning". We are beginning to act out "the new" and we are knee-deep in learning, everyone is. We go down, like when we walk in fresh snow, yes, because this new world has not yet equipped us with snowshoes. We still have to learn to walk on it. A new world not only for those who, like me, have started a new job, but new for everyone.
There was in fact a "before", when we were used to our routine, when there was no crumbly snow beneath us, but firm ground, we could see a stone and the slope was certain. There was a "before", when we knew that taking a precise step would have meant getting a precise result.
In that "before" we were used to do things in a certain way, to advance in a certain way, to do business in a certain way. Take the budget, for example: you took previous year’s items, you analyzed how to improve them, you adjusted them according to the new strategic plan, and turned in the budget. It was always cut (but it never came as a surprise and you always got over it) and somehow you saw what could be optimized. After all, it was always the same circle, like a carousel: the one with the horses that go round and round.
Once upon a time there was a carousel
There was a carousel that I liked a lot, especially when I went with my father: it was called "Aerial Swing & Kick Ride". Do you know it? Or are you too young to remember?
To tell the truth, they weren't real kicks, let's just say you got pushed from behind, which made you win. The idea was the same as the merry-go-round with horses but with one substantial difference: the speed increased and as it increased, the merry-go-round swings rose upwards. The goal was to catch a flag but it was impossible to do it alone: you had to have a partner behind who gave you a good boost at the right moment: speed, timing and cooperation. This is what I learned during these 100 days in TXT.
And now there is snow: the "new normal"
Because after that "before" there is the "after", or rather: "the now", what we now call "new normal". Snowshoeing in the woods, where you don't have any footprints to follow, but you have all the fresh snow in front of you ready to be explored. And it is precisely in this "new normal" that I became part of a Group that is reorganizing itself on these new distances, a Group that is making acquisitions and becoming larger, a Group made up of companies that are merging their own skills to weave patterns of value and to provide services that are ever closer to customer needs: from consulting to software implementation, from technological to cultural change.
The 100 days are over, but they are not simply over: they went by very quickly. I could sum up the super synthesis of all my 100 days like this.
1. “The new normal” is a myth. Easy: what is normal? Everything we know is normal, everything we are "used" to doing or seeing. We are not familiar with the situation we are experiencing now, just like I was not familiar with the reality in which I would have started working. And as I was not used to walk down Via Frigia, none of us is used to moving around this new world. We were used to walking, and now they put snowshoes on our feet. We are walking in a world that is reorganizing, and before this "new" becomes "normal", we still have to walk many kilometers with these snowshoes, our companies not only have to reorganize themselves but have to totally transform their business, on fresh snow. TXT thus becomes a Digital enabler for its customers. The companies of the TXT Group are like those seats on the wing carousel, we push each other to get higher, to be able to take that winning flag and we learn to snowshoe. Together we create new tracks.
2. Tight corners: it’s an expression introduced by musician Steve Lacy for a musical exercise. This exercise consists in experiencing a limit for a long time by remaining on a limited series of given notes in which the values must not change despite a changing background melody. This exercise forces the musician to find harmony there, within the limits of the four notes. It is an exercise that all companies are already doing, because they are forced to: we all have to deal with limits, we all have our "tight corners". The challenge is to come up with a melody, in what will one day become truly the "new normal".
3. Picasso and his blue period. I found myself moving in a situation full of limits: limits in being able to meet people personally, limits in being able to create a new organizational structure remotely, and budget limits. I reflected for the first time on what it means to be inside the “Tight Corners”: we often think about how to overcome limits, rather than how to stay within them. Yet, Picasso, during his Blue Period, had given himself the color blue as a limit, and by staying within the limit of that color he had proved himself, by exploring all its nuances and creating so much beauty. Maybe the limits bring out the best in us, even when we stay within them.
4. Communication is like wax. We have migrated our webpage over to a new CRM. We will thus be able to improve client processes, we will have better metrics that we can use, and the ability to plan communication campaigns on social media, but here comes the best part: using effective words when writing texts. In these hundred days I have learned that customer communication starts from a good internal communication. Employees are the company's first ambassadors, they are the flame that can heat that wax, and make it more effective. Yes, because communication is just like wax, it needs to be heated in order to reach the reader's heart. And who can make it more "human" and warmer if not the same professionals who work in your own company? When they talk, communication is authentic, communication is warm, communication is human.
5. When you stop listening you stop learning. And this risk is just around the corner. It is the risk you run when you get on the hamster wheel, made up of hundreds of e-mails, of back-to-back meetings (who knows, maybe video conferences have made us more effective) - the wheel of doing without thinking. Soon you end up answering those who are still in their hundred days, and ask you why you do things in a certain way: “because that’s how it has always been done”. Opening our eyes and ears and looking up from time to time, even when our 100 days are over, makes us continue to learn something every day, even in the job we have been doing for twenty years. In the meantime, I decided to continue what I like to call "the virtuous chain" of learning in the company, starting from my mini video on Instagram. From here, colleagues will take turns challenging another colleague who in turn will tell what he/she has learned during these last few months within the company. The first to catch the ball will be our CIO, Guido Ingenito.
The challenges of the next 100 days, which however also apply to the next hundred months:
A hundred months would be… how many years? More than eight, who knows in eight years where the TXT Group will be, who knows how many companies will be part of our Group, who knows how many professionals we will have in our team. However, one thing is certain: the biggest challenge that will accompany me in the future will be to keep learning from colleagues, to continue to look with amazement and curiosity at what surrounds me, at what changes and transforms, without sinking into doing but keeping the snowshoes firmly on my feet and exploring, together with my colleagues, that "new" that will have become "normal", perhaps.