There's a lot of talk about the edge of chaos.
Applying it to the on-purpose space, edge of chaos is an exciting and challenging place to be, between disorder and order within organizations and systems. Like natural systems, organizations can self-adjust and adapt to their environments to avoid chaos or disorder.
In the context of post-pandemic, this transition is the most difficult, yet could be the site of creativity, innovation, and adaptation organizations need to change abruptly and with far greater success.
What we learned for the past 10 months with the pandemic is the speed to which organizations impose changes. Most of them carried out changes in a few months which would normally take them years to move things forward. Call it forced choice, but urgency and resoluteness were present.
Take the case of the courts system allowing video testimonials. Banks allowing masking when that would be unheard of in its practice. The tourism sector banking on innovation to help stabilize their industries that are hurting at the moment. These changes would have never happened in our lifetime.
Instead of cursing disorder and chaos brought by the pandemic, the edge provides the drive to overhaul workings that have become stale. In moments of opportunity such as this, take a prudent risk and invite others to join alongside.
It's better at the edge than in the comfort of order.
In strategy, the conventional wisdom is to start from your current state/situation/position.
This is faulty and utterly difficult. Our status quo thinking and action propels us to look at what's in our current view. We rarely, in matters of management, look beyond, proactively because as Drucker said, we are constantly bogged down by "the tyranny of the mundane."
The leaders' and managers' job is not to solve problems but to look for opportunities. The future while fraught with uncertainty and high level of contradictions also provide a giant opportunity for innovation and applied creativity. Where to look is a good starting question.
We always look at the leading brands and organizations that are killing it even in the worst of times. But, their trajectories and strengths are different. They also have 'failure money' to experiment without risking their mortgages and future pension.
You have to start with your good practice. You have to start with backward thinking and then create the strategies linking the present situation to your desired states. Some call it the zero moment, when the future states are achieved in the present. Before you even reach this stage, you would be already on to your next-level challenge for your organization.
How much of your time these days is devoted to focusing on future prospects and opportunities, and how much time minding the daily business of keeping the lights on?
The majority of people in organizations will just gladly go along any changes communicated as a positive development in the right direction.
But for some, change is not an easy sell, and more processes need to happen to ensure buy-in for all important stakeholders. As an on-purpose leader, you can take these small steps:
1. Overcommunicate the positive gains and the immediate steps.
The rest of the time, it's the middle phase that's ambiguous but not necessary to be bogged down by it. Keep the focus on the high-level objectives and what they can do right away. Immediate steps take their eyes off worries and fears, and lead them to practical things they can work on.
2. Be clear about the challenges and pains that will be faced
Do not promise the moon and the stars. What is mostly likely to happen in the beginning is that there would be massive amounts of adjustments to be made and then, the 'settling' period which would be the 'in-between' moments for most people. Tell them all the pains that will have to be endured and don't gloss over critical issues for each departments to do.
3. Resist going back and staying in one place in the change continuum
Do not go back romanticizing the past ways or methods of doing things. Resist this water-cooler talks in your office and in your boardroom. The legroom of moving initially is already an achievement in itself. You have come along in this continuum.
But don't rest your laurels in one place. You have to move to the next level-whether is developing and strengthening your talent, building a pipeline of future clients and customers, building a knowledge management system, among others. It could also mean preparing your Board Trustees and executives for a robust leadership role throughout these change period.
4. Celebrate with your key team and learn ways to accelerate
Gravity pulls us down. As much as we'd like to think that all the resisting dragons are slayed. Inertia and entropy, like gravity can bring organizations out of their momentum and elide their impact. Learn ways to accelerate and defy the need to do a lot of consultations which would not add value or wait for the next greenlight from higher-ups.
Be the best believer of this transformation in your organization. When the chips are down, remember, this is a phase, not the end. Resistors are not enemies to be thrown out of the bus. You should appreciate the value they provide and how much worth the journey it is to keep them alongside with you throughout the process.
Everyday, people are moving on with their lives. They are getting married, having babies, building companies, hiring people, and trying to make a living.
If there's one consolation we can derive from another extended lockdown- we don't have to meet people, we don't want to meet.
We don't want to waste our time in meetings that go nowhere.
We don't have to fall in line in stores when we know we can buy online.
We don't have to drive or ride a plane to get to seminars, workshops, conferences.
But we want to, we will make a way for things to happen.
If you're not moving on, you are resisting the flow of action.
Contradictions rule our time. Everything is in flux, including yourself.
Go with flow and welcome uncertainty as a given.
Everyday my daughter and I would walk outside in the snowy yard and do all kinds of fun games.
She likes to walk and create new tracks which she would then connect together.
We need to connect our actions with what's going on with the world, the natural environment, and people systems.
We need to connect what we're thinking with our customers and adjust service offerings with their needs.
We need to connect with other people and actors in our space not because we need them, but we can help and find synergy.
We need to build linkages with other sectors and industries which normally do not work together or seem to be opposite or in direct competition. These are areas to be mined for opportunities to provide a win-win solution.
We need to connect as leaders and managers to our self-awareness and tap into the potential for creative expression inside and outside of our work.
There are many reasons to feel connected and be connected with. If you're in isolation, look into the mirror.
In the last 6 months, I learned that there's no way that the epidemic or the conservative responses to the epidemic could help any forward-looking organizations get back on its track or even pursue innovation, if it's just looking at what everyone's doing.
There's no need to wait for someone or something to happen to greenlight what you want to accomplish in the next 6 months.
Either, this pandemic will pass like other flus in a natural way with the vaccine as a first-rate preventative tool or not. It's a given.
If you have the resolve to change the road you're walking on, change.
If you want to continue but adjust, adjust well.
Act on them now and let the chips fall off.
Better yet, build your own roads, streets, or traffic lights.
Don't look behind your shoulder because there's no one there, except your shadow.
The most important of all: Take care of yourself and be kind to others.