The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the whole world like never before. The norms of social distancing, shelter in place, and lockdown have forced us to invent new ways of communicating, socializing, and working from remote. Also, this situation has compelled us to reconsider our priorities in life by bringing quality healthcare at the top of the stack while sliding leisure & travel activities to the bottom.
Small teams at Startups are no exception to this rule — where prioritizing healthcare safety of teams over the work is more important — we learned that the inherent lean & fail fast approach of the startup equips it with enough agility to cope up with major cultural shifts or product pivots.
In this light, it only made sense to write about our team’s experience at CareMother. CareMother is working towards making motherhood a happy and safe experience for mothers & their families. We have officially completed 5 years of startup journey in the month of March 2020.
That said, as a health-tech company, we could witness a rapid shift in consumer behavior to demand online & virtual care delivery services like never before. Our business needed to embrace and adapt to those changes quickly by reinventing product & business strategies. This in turn implies that there will be a change in job roles, business processes, and responsibilities for the team members.
Nevertheless, the last three eventful months of the lockdown have provided us with an opportunity to self-reflect, reflect about our team and consciously act upon certain priority aspects — to the extent that we all could re-discover ourselves. Of course, we might not be the only one team here as this pandemic could very well bring the best out of anyone, below are 5 simple but not-so-obvious C’s which our team has followed to outdo itself :
The anticipation of what is going to happen began even before the lockdown. Our team had a joint meeting to confront each other about the leftover work, failures, and expected impact of it. Even when no one had anticipated a long time stretch of working-from-home as such, everyone was prepared towards accepting the change which has inevitably come along the way.
CareMother’s purpose is to contribute to enabling access to better pregnancy & child care services. With this thought process in mind, team members have cultivated additional skills and capacities to help partner hospitals provide better digital engagement and consultations to pregnant mothers. We now see how these efforts are slowly paying off after getting to know the positive testimonials from mothers & doctors. In a nutshell, the level of commitment our team has shown towards the purpose was simply amazing. One can access more detailed information about this work from this article: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6662245369952505856
There are always certain aspects of making things mandatory to be more effective or productive. Hence, the reinforcement of the processes which simplify the coordination of work virtually pushes team members to become the best versions of themselves. Improved peer-to-peer communication, being concise over video calls, minimizing the frequency of meetings, respecting each other’s availability, etc. are some of the parts and parcels which have come along the way. For e.g one such process we introduced was to make it compulsory for everyone to log the exact time period required for doing a certain task on a daily basis.
Moreover, strict communication with external stakeholders — being partners/customers, etc. — about following certain protocols for onboarding patients, providing quality services, etc. has helped to a great extend. Needless to mention that this willingness was from both ends so as to be more effective & efficient in the respective tasks. Working with the ecosystem partners became a little easier in the period of uncertainty — as the healthcare delivery was going through digital transformation to be more getting matured and evolved. For e.g follow up calls with the first 50 clinics to increase utilization of fetosense product (A smartphone-based fetal heart monitor) has achieved approximately 30% monthly growth in the number of tests performed.
Extreme prioritization has proven to be very effective for cost reduction & extended runway. Work-wise, we quickly learned that not-to-do lists tend to be more useful than to-do lists. The entire energy of a focused team brings a self-multiplying effect, not merely because of peer-to-peer support and encouragement but because of the sense of a common goal. Defining a unit of success at an organizational level and encapsulating implicitly in the day-to-day work processes further amplifies this effect. One may have to cancel almost all un-aligned tasks in the pipeline to justify above heuristic in practice as multitasking is generally very hard to do.
Ultimately, the assessment of whether above 4 C’s are contributing towards increased maturity or productivity of the team was important. It was a bit evident in the first few weeks that the vehicle of team-spirit needed fuel of face-to-face interactions. Confessing about things which have worked individually and sharing them with each other was the key. Additionally, a confession about the lack of specific skillset in the team helped identify areas of improvement. Based on these insights, the decision of providing support for respective team members to work on their skillsets was easy.
All in all, the above paradigm made us realize once again that no matter how bad the situation is, a great team possesses an amazing ability to overcome. Even market trends, customer behavior change, etc. can prove to be the next big opportunity to try out something new. Needless to say that the most resilient teams with upgraded skill sets that will be standing after the pandemic era will be the ones that would have contributed a little in changing the world. And our team would like to be the one at the end!