The leadership job has taken on new challenges with the short term need for you to ensure the safety and well-being of your staff and organization. The current and immediate focus is to determine what needs to be done to keep people safe, motivated and productive during this crisis. There is also a need to think ahead and determine what your organization needs to be doing differently if the current crisis continues for an extended period. You should also be taking short term actions to ensure the survival and health of the organization so that it is ready to ‘spring back into action’ once this crisis subsides.
Also important, however, is the need for you to start thinking about the future impact of this crisis on your organization, staff, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders, both from a positive and negative perspective, and to determine what you should be doing to position your organization for success in the post COVID-19 world. There is no crystal ball that will tell us what this world will look like, however, what is certain is that it will be different.
The fundamental principle of Charles Handy’s Sigmoid Curve is that organizations need to proactively change while things are still growing and improving before hitting the inevitable plateau that subsequently leads to decline. We have hit the pinnacle and for many organizations the decline is already here. Coming out of this crisis, survival and success will require a rapid response to ensure the continued relevance and value of your organization.
Change management has become an important organizational focus as organizations work to help employees understand and embrace change efforts. The significant and profound changes that people have endured during this crisis make most organizational change look like a walk in the park. As organizational leaders it is time for you to start thinking about re-positioning your organization, to be prepared for whatever comes about, and to start the change now. We often hear about the ‘burning platform’ that will drive change. That platform is pretty hot.
The innovation efforts of most organizations have been inadequate. They have marginally improved the efficiency of a process and called that innovation. Organizations will require a much more disruptive approach to change, and they will not have the typical five to eight years to see the results.
I believe that now is the time for you to start thinking about what the future will be for your organization.
What you start to do now to adapt and capitalize on what the new world will offer will determine if your organization wins or loses in the new world.
The COVID-19 crisis reaches beyond human health. Its economic effects extend to government policy and programs, client needs and expectations, legal processes, supply chains, financial resources, etc. There are three phases that require immediate organizational responses:
- The Endure phase is to address the immediate challenges that COVID-19 represents to the workforce by examining exigent challenges in staffing, technology, workplace, financial, and supply chain to maintain value to clients and stakeholders. Hopefully, most of this is already been done.
- The Evolve phase is the development of strategies and actions that build our capabilities to return operations to their original scale, while preparing for challenges and risks that we may need to mitigate. To do this requires a detailed articulation and assessment of the potential impacts on customers, staff, products and services, supply chain, technology and financial resources and the development of a short-term action playbook.
- The Explore phase involves getting a better understanding of the next normal and how discontinuous shifts in the operating environment might affect future operations and service delivery and where there are potential opportunities that can be leveraged. Scenario planning will help organizations create visualizations of potential realistic situations as well as trends and driving forces that will affect how the organization will need to respond. During the explore phase, organizations develop several scenarios as well as strategies and actions for each scenario that can be activated when identified triggers indicate the emergence of a specific scenario.
About the Author: Rob Cooke is a leadership advisor, strategist and coach. Drawing on a strong background in business and organizational development, Rob utilizes his extensive consulting experience to help leaders address emerging challenges, seize opportunities and execute approaches to achieve personal, leadership and business goals.