When we have a chance to pause and look back, appreciate the fact that we are all still here.
The most important thing to realise from this year is all we have is today. We can sort out tomorrow when it comes.
2020 has provided so much to learn and take from. This provides me a way to share with you what I have learned from a business perspective as well as a wider context when it comes to knowing those who interact with you.
From A Business Side
For all of us, one thing I now know is that whatever is thrown our way, we can deal with it.
During 2020 maybe you have lost your job, had a sizeable project to deal with, be the person to deliver redundancies, or make decisions you haven’t had to face before. Things may not have been perfect, but somehow, we are all still here and should be thankful for that.
From a personal perspective, 2020 has been pivotal in so many ways. Since 2007, I have always had a business partner to lean on and confide in. In 2020, we decided that I would take the business on, alone (you can read more in my prioritise those around us article). When you are trying to look forward and can’t see the light, but recognise it is all on you, it is stressful. For instance, in March, we had a verbal ‘yes’ on nine new projects. Then the story became much like many other businesses in the UK, when the world took a very different turn and what was expected didn’t come to fruition.
When you are in overwhelm mode it is difficult to see the wood for the trees. One important lesson I now understand is you have to take a step back and assess the situations we find ourselves within. What makes us stressed and anxious, it can be dealt with.
Looking back now, I realise that we can’t grumble or indulge in opportunities missed, more about the ability to be ready, willing and the fight to step into and embrace next year. We still need our goals to achieve.
Should Long Term Plans Be Put Aside?
We all saw from 2020 that having a plan in place effectively went out the window. However, we all need to have long terms goals and plans. They just need to be adapted.
If you want to make a difference in your work and the people/businesses you support, you still need a vision. If you don’t have a vision, you meander and becomes difficult to acknowledge that what you are doing is meaningful to others.
The five and ten-year plans are still as relevant, you just have to adapt to the short term and realign. For instance, what could have been growth at the start of 2020, becomes stability for 2021. I believe that you need to keep business simple and to just keep going, but being mindful of what needs to achieved and the milestones to reach, no matter if your hand has been forced this year.
What About The World Of UX?
It would be wrong to think that just because of the events we have all faced or currently dealing with, that our customers, users and audiences have changed. They are still here and we need them now, more than ever. Just because things are different, we can’t take our eyes off those people who spend time and interact with our businesses.
If you do not understand your customers, employees and wider audience, you are not in a strong place to adapt. What can happen is that decisions start to become more reactive. Businesses can become reactive when they lean too much on the data. As Jenny Lewis, senior UX consultant, shared in an article on metric distractions, “For businesses where transactions are their main focus, naturally conversion metrics represent a benchmark for ‘success’. However, we need to make a rational connection between what is being measured and the realities of what is really happening. Time on site and A/B testing are great metrics, but don’t necessarily tell you the full story.”
What I want to emphasise here is that you can’t be led by what is happening, but why things are happening. We all need to understand the importance of ‘the why’ and then understand how products and services fit within the overall story and then adapt accordingly. This means that messaging, business targets, marketing, customer service all co-ordinate.
Instead of diversifying and looking to offer more products, there has never been a more important time to know the people you are looking to serve and test and research. Businesses want longevity from customers, they need to know how they behave and not led by an internal bias. If we want to have businesses that stand strong within the marketplaces we represent, it starts and ends with the people who interact, spend and feel affiliated with a product or service. Lean into the people who engage with you and what you deliver. This is where competitive advantage sits, by knowing the behaviour of others and not just what the data shows.
The future belongs to those who design and build user experiences that are relevant, personalised and feel natural. This means that testing and research helps with improved delivery or service.
To understand others and ourselves, we have to have a chance to reflect.
Let Me Bring To An End
A positive effect from 2020 has been the environment. Less crowded roads, reduced noise levels and wildlife reclaimed their land. According to the World Economic Forum, global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to have been reduced by 8% this year.
What this demonstrated is the value to put a pause on the world. Similar to our businesses, we can’t continue at a ferocious pace, you have to find the right moments to slow down. When you carry on regardless, it is easy to become overwhelmed and overburdened. To build successful businesses that understand others, we need to reflect, breathe, test and make the right judgements, for our own peace of mind and bottom line.
A positive to take forward is to reflect and understand who you create for, otherwise, there can become an imbalance by forgetting those you serve.
2020 has provided many choices and decisions to make. It has also heightened the importance to know the people we have a responsibility for and the sectors we build our reputation within. We have all experienced something we will never forget these past 12 months.