Oona Collins: Winning tactics for turbulent times


Successful businesses are not allowing geopolitical events to affect their ambitions, says top leadership coach Oona Collins -instead they are looking to innovate, as a mean of staying ahead and continuing to thrive...

Written by

Oona Collins

Founder & Director at Potential Plus International

Oona is a Global Executive Coach & Consultant. She specialises in coaching leaders and senior executives through transition periods, typically pre and post promotion, restructures, mergers or in new roles. She has over 20 years’ experience incorporating board level positions in sales and management and has coached over 25 different nationalities. Oona has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, Toronto, Sydney, Europe and USA and holds a Non-Executive Directorship.

In this ever-changing environment, it is all the more important to identify new opportunities for competitive advantage – and not just how to gain it, but also how to keep it.

Artificial intelligence, virtual reality solutions and new software breakthroughs are all challenging existing company structures. This wave of innovation has seen companies rearrange how they do business to improve their customer experience, optimise team collaboration and create agile structures that can adapt in a bid to win advantage over competitors.

As a leadership coach, I am often asked to come in during periods of transformation for a business and with this accelerating change in the industry, I have seen some recent trends that I believe are important and can assist businesses to stay ahead.

Multi-discipline teams that combine industry experience with data analytics and technology

Teams now need to be mission-led rather than function driven

I have seen significant changes in the way teams work. Teams now need to be mission-led rather than function driven. Client teams are collaborating together across all disciplines including analysts who can use data science to predict market trends for their clients and customers. The insights provided by these diverse teams are adding huge value to clients and their future planning.  With new technologies and using customer research houses who research future trends the most innovative property companies are gaining traction in their market through their innovative approach.

Virtual solutions to optimise customer experience

A developer client, Goldcrest Land, has diversified into building shells which the customer fits out. They are using 3D solutions to present to a customer a finished view of their ‘shell’ in real time and truly bring to life what the finished property will be like. It enables them to offer diverse solutions for different lifestyles, so if you wanted a shell for a family it would have more storage, smaller bedrooms, a different layout than a shell for single occupiers who may want to do more entertaining with a large reception and dining area within the same parameters of the shell. All of this at a touch of a button including an app that when swept over a 2D drawing will process the data and bring to life a 3D sense of space on the phone allowing customer to visualise their own “grand design”

Improving efficiency with Artificial Intelligence 

AI tools are software solutions that are programmed to learn and optimise themselves and can be used to improve and speed up complex processes.  For real estate agents it can help to prepare transactions with less manual input, speed up due diligence processes and make the entire process from marketing to the search for buyers to the sale – more efficient overall. As a start it is helpful to look at your customer offer from outside in.  Are your business models fit for purpose?  Which part of your service adds most value? How can technology, AI improve the service?  Which parts of the services are “less threatened” by AI.  What do you change, what do you preserve?  Start with small projects and go for quick wins and make sure customer facing and technology teams work closely together. Andre Ng in a recent FT podcast explains how he started a small AI project with the Google speech team, and the success attracted Google Maps and then moved to the Google Ads Team.

Build a culture of innovation

Encourage creativity and input from people with a diverse mix of skills, age, and experience and be willing to test ideas.

New services and business models are born from people’s capacity to challenge and be curious. Hold regular innovation meetings leading with an important questions such as ‘How can we stay ahead of the game?’ ‘What opportunities does this market present to us?’ Encourage creativity and input from people with a diverse mix of skills, age, and experience and be willing to test ideas.

Keep close to your customers

Customers are bombarded with online surveys about their experience but how accurate and useful is the information.  An online company emailed me with a list of reasons as to why I had unsubscribed none of which corresponded to the real reason. I was impressed when they phoned me and it was during this conversation that I was able to convey the valuable information on which they could take action. Combine online surveys with regular client conversations.

Engagement first before change – leadership with a human touch

Engagement is the critical stage that allows speed in executing change. The importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and the human touch is key so that people understand the reasons for change and how it will impact them.

A client who is developing successors for their leadership team has decided to offer career paths to those who have a natural talent to build and develop great teams.

Their most successful team is led by someone with a proven track record of exceptional client relationships whose role is now not sales but developing a high performing team that will excel in a changing and competitive industry.  The team talk openly about how much they respect this leader, how they appreciate the time that is given to leverage their talents individually and collectively. This has led to a level of commitment and loyalty that will enable them to be at their best and outperform in a competitive industry.

It is clear therefore that successful businesses are not allowing geopolitical events to affect their ambitions. Instead they are looking to innovate, as a mean of staying ahead and continuing to thrive.

Oona Collins L. linkedin.com

Main image: RISK