Yesterday, I spoke at Trico Changemakers Studio and it was a delight to have a very engaging discussion with the members present.
What I observed about the resilience narrative is that they are based on patterns and a sense of predictability that is not present right now in a climate of ambiguity, uncertainty, complexity, and volatility. I have made a Beyond Resilience paradigm to show what we are missing out on many important themes.
Instead of asking yourselves, are you ready to bring your kids to schools, ask about how education can be reimagined for the future generation.
Instead of asking how can we solve homelessness together, why don't reimagine how the vulnerable population can be part of us, not something to be considered separate, different, and wanting?
We asked the wrong questions therefore get the wrong answers.
We need bold imagination for a future that is not what we desire, but we can thrive and build stronger.
Let's start a conversation.
Within my network of business executives and leaders who are doing well, I see two patterns of opportunity-seeking behavior that are important to underline in this time.
One is that they don't believe in palliative measures and don't look to outward signals to navigate their way out of the pandemic slump. They create their own metrics, dig into what they do best, and engage their peers and industry leaders to help them move strategically.
The second pattern I observe is that these leaders believe with all of their hearts that investing and increasing their impacts is now, in spite and despite of the volatility of the markets. Waiting for the green signal from WHO, CDC, and other institutions to say that all is clear is like waiting for a new utopian society. Nobody knows what's going to happen next year, in two years, so on and so forth.
Two organizations have embarked on a new expansion project for their facilities, upgraded their equipment and protocols, and increase their value as a result. Another organization had been relentless in deepening their connections with their stakeholders that it has become a mature and evolved center since the pandemic, offering never-been-conceived offerings and services, not just as a response to help, but a mission-laden value. The pandemic accelerated their transition from an underperforming asset to a powerhouse organization! A number of organizations have decided that hiring for the future but keeping with the responsibility of pandemic prevention is the way to go.
There are powerful examples of not coasting along and resisting to just cope and endure. Beyond resilience, leaders must prepare for the inevitable-radical change that is now in our faces!
What are you doing now to increase your value and impact to your customers and stakeholders? What is the winning mindset that you should adopt to enable you to thrive and not just endure the crisis?
A few years ago, I have written about the concept of blue ocean.
To fortify this idea, I have encountered recently that it is wise to move upstream when there are bigger sea creatures and not get clipped by a speeding boat and hit by ski boards when you are closer to shore. The former gives you the wide room to maneuver and avoid the predators while the latter constricts your basic movements.
Organizations concoct arbitrary rules, policies, and standards without due consideration to the actual costs and value that these inputs could do to obstruct relations with their customers, suppliers, and partners.
More rules created becomes barriers for taxpayers, businesses, and stakeholders to access services, programs and opportunities for partnerships.
Designed to safeguard an objective process, smaller organizations become their own enemies when they make these arbitrary rules to their detriment. There is a word for that 'bureaucracy.'
Bureaucratic organizations tend to treat themselves as insulated from growth and results orientation, with the pr0pensity to perpetuate themselves regardless of their impacts and relevance to society.
From non-profits, associations, community clubs, government organizations, and other types of community initiatives, and social enterprises, the first question to ask: how can we get rid of the problem so that we can get out of the way?
Are we there yet? The little boy asked his parents from the back of the van. Eager to get into the destination, he forgets that the trip itself is one big adventure.
Like that little boy, some of us are still persistently asking the authorities, our leaders, our neighbors, the statisticians, or any one who wants to care, "are we there yet?" in terms of economic recovery.
Are we at the tail-end? in the mid-wing? or completely out of it without us realizing or feeling different? Statistics do not say much. Perception is reality.
Instead of asking 'are we there yet' what can we do right now to steel up and get going despite and in spite the economic woes we are experiencing as a province, with policies left and right that try to suppressed our natural resources and gifts, and the kinds of leaders bent on reversing all the decades of economic development we had built.
All these taken together should give us the fodder to
-strategize not only to survive but to grow, beat the competition, and dominate our markets;
-define our value proposition and solicit more feedback from our loyal customers;
-now is also the time to invest not hoard 'precious dollars' to help us bounce back better when the boom is back;
-seriously create a mindset that takes setbacks as good feedback;
This 'are we there yet? persistence could be driving all of us mad.
Let's stop this whining and moaning to realize we are creating our doom and gloom prophesies. We have the agency, volition, and control within our leadership roles to get back on the right track.
Did I say stop whining?
The Fraser Canyon is beautiful and treacherous at the same time. It is not for new drivers as it is one of the oldest roads in B.C. Traversing this road takes skill, planning, and masterful execution to get through unscathed. It also takes familiarity with these roads to be able to set contingency measures along the way.
There are sharp turns, zigzags, and steep hills, and difficult narrow passes. It is important to stay awake, alert, and anticipatory of the next difficult move.
Taking sharp turns in management parlance has a different meaning. It means getting out of your normal situation (whatever that normal is) and taking risks to reinvent yourself, your organization, and your initiatives to take it to the next level, leaving behind anything that doesn't help you get there.
What are the signs saying that you need to take the next sharp turn? Traffic signs help you navigate difficult roads and alerting motorists of the potential dangers on the road. There are also signs that alert you that you are 'stuck' without you knowing:
1. People in the organization are defensive, conservative, and fearful of needful change;
2. People in the organization refuse to heed to environmental changes and trends that affect the business;
3. People are comfortable with the level of growth and do not want to 'rock' the boat that much;
4. Progress takes time and the next growth is such an uphill climb compared to when you are starting;
5. Deals run out, market shrinks, customers/clients stop buying for some reason;
6. The management is protective of earlier successes and cannot imagine a different future;
Some of these signs represent the truism that past success does not determine future performance.
Relaxing and cruising along is fine on a nice day in a nice road.
Do not do that when you are building your business or organization.
It's nice to reach a plateau.
You can have a break, walk around, smell the roses, enjoy the scenery, take some photos along the way, have a snack, and rest your legs after the long drive. But you can't stay too long.
All plateaus lead to a decline. While staying there increases pleasure and comfort, it doesn't allow you to reach new heights where you can experience a different level of accomplishment- the next summit.
Think about that in your organizational life and in your career trajectory.
You might be in a plateau too long to figure out you are running circles and not moving an inch to your destination.