It is now over five months since we entered “lockdown” on 23rd March here in the UK and our repertoire of hyperboles has been long exhausted when describing its impact. Many families are still grieving for the loss of loved ones, and many others have experienced or are facing redundancy. My own experience of COVID-19 has been challenging as I actually found myself facing redundancy and an uncertain future, so my reflections are very much rooted in a personal journey, which has not been without its pain.
Recently, as I have been speaking with colleagues and contacts, I have begun to sense a gradual, yet profound shift as organizations recognize that they need to move on from simply reacting to events, to responding more proactively to the challenges presented by COVID-19. In a series of three blogs, I will set out three shifts in mindset I perceive are required for such a response, and I would like to raise questions that I believe leaders and organizational development professionals alike will need to grapple with in the coming months.
The shifts are:
- From Temporary Interruption to Innovation Opportunity
- From Tools and Technologies to Culture and Behaviours
- From Protectionism to Risk-taking
Today, I will focus on the first shift.
From Temporary Interruption to Innovation Opportunity
Perhaps like many of you, when COVID-19 first arrived my instinct was to see it as a brief interruption to routine. A significant interruption, yes, but sooner or later, it would be over and we could get back to normal. It was a case of ‘riding out the storm’. As time has gone on, it has become apparent that the world has changed. Apart from the fact we will be living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, in many other ways there is just no going back to the way things were.
This is not all bad. In a recent conversation with a friend, he commented the enforced move to home-based, flexible working enabled his organization to achieve a transformation in weeks that they had envisaged would take at least two years. As they say, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. So… this first shift in mindset is to relinquish the desire to return to the way things were and embrace the disruptions caused by COVID-19 as a catalyst to spawn innovation.
- What do you or your organization still need to relinquish in order to enable you to seize new opportunities?
- How will you tune into the innovations already incubating in your organization and how will you nurture them effectively in a virtual environment?