Carrying on, continuously
Whether its origins are actually in an old Chinese proverb or not, the concept of crisis and opportunity being either side of the same coin are now firmly entrenched in business thinking. Furthermore, the opportunity around a crisis is not always to profit, but rather to prosper.
An American politician is credited with saying that one should never let a serious crisis go to waste, qualifying by adding, it is an opportunity to do things “you think you could not do before”.
Some 15 weeks ago, if one were to suggest that entire organisations simply take themselves home and start to work from kitchen tables, spare rooms and attics, the conversation may have ended with derision.
However, today we have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic response by business has not only been unprecedented, but, on the whole, a huge success.
Most organisations whose business could be carried on, was carried on, adapting to change, coping with adversity and providing people with the tools, services and infrastructure to remain productive.
“Use the confidence gained during these momentous times and harness it for the good of the organisation and its people”
‘It can’t be done’ quickly turned into ‘it has been done’, before moving in many cases to ‘why didn’t we do this before?’
There are, no doubt, casualties too, and they cannot be ignored, but for the most part, this has been a success. To capitalise on it, organisations need to harness that willingness to embrace change and make it a way of life. Organisations that are always expecting, and, to certain extent always implementing, change are the ones that will be best placed to adapt, to adjust and to prosper.
The transformation agenda has been the subject of much discussion and action for organisations of all sizes in recent times, but it has largely been driven by one or two factors in most cases. This might be changing markets, changing demand, or technological change, but spurred on by environmental concerns, sustainability and regulation. But even so, few have embraced change as quickly or as willingly as they have in the past number of weeks. The resultant taste of success, coupled with air of unreality that still persists, are the perfect canvas on which to implement an organisation-wide system of change.
This is not some campaign to promote fear or to scare people into doing things, but rather to use the confidence gained during these momentous times and harness it for the good of the organisation and its people.
People have achieved incredible things in this period, and are now, more than ever, convinced of their ability to tackle crisis and adversity and thrive — through crisis and into prosperity.
Thriving now may not mean huge profits, for some it might mean mere survival, but the lessons learned now, and the confidence gathered — not to mention the respect earned by those who have shown true leadership amid the chaos — can be woven together to bring people on the journey of change so that when things return to some semblance of normality, that spirit of enablement, of capability and fortitude in the face of challenge is not lost.
The reality of today’s world is that technological change, sustainability, environmental pressures, as well as the direct effects of climate change, all to the back drop of unexpectedly fluid political landscapes, mean that change is to be expected, but not necessarily feared.
The recent experience has shown us that the tools and technologies are there, as is the knowledge. While no one would ever want the same impetus, the spirit, drive and tenacity with which adversity was met can never, and should never be forgotten.
By instituting a culture of change, whether through continuous improvement, agile methodologies or other such system, that gets people accustomed to change while they do what they do, ensuring they have a means to contribute and shape the process, will ensure that when the order of magnitude shifts to something as grave as a global pandemic, people remember they they can handle it, they can adapt and they can prosper — whatever that means for your organisation.