“The future is now. Roll up your sleeves and let your passion flow.
The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.”
— Bruce Springsteen
It seems like yesterday that I paused on the sidewalk in NYC to enjoy the morning sun while having a cup of coffee. People hurried by on their way to work or to meetings, like the one I was about to attend. Finishing my coffee, I joined the parade and within a few moments arrived at my destination. I went through security, grabbed an elevator and made my way to a meeting room twenty stories above the street. The table in the center of the room would easily accommodate the fifteen executives joining me to continue an examination and discussion of the organization’s core values, mission and culture. The time flew by and before long we were planning our next session; mid March seemed to work for everyone. We said our goodbyes never thinking that come the scheduled date for our next meeting, the building we were in would be locked down and the streets of Manhattan would be deserted.
This pandemic has totally changed the manner in which we live, work and learn, and these changes were not gradual and planned, they were unprecedented and rapid; changes to which some have adjusted and others have not. For the past eight weeks our healthcare workers, first-responders, teachers, and so many others have gone above and beyond in responding to the new challenges with which we are faced. Simultaneously, organizational leaders have been challenged to rethink everything. The simple fact is this, it’s time to plan for a new future.
A few weeks ago I attended a webinar hosted by Patrick Lencioni. He suggested that organizational leaders use this time to be exceedingly human, persistent and creative. So how has your organization used these past two months? What plans have been created that will enable your business or non-profit to adapt and thrive in this new, emerging, environment? What is your new vision and how will it be achieved?
While some things will be the same, much will change, and many organizations have come to the realization that what worked in a pre-COVID-19 world must be adapted if viability is to be sustained. Here are a few suggestions:
Periodic Check-ins: By now all leaders should have checked-in numerous times with employees, customers and vendors. The purpose of the call (not email, not text), is to simply see how people and organizations are doing and how you can be of service. This isn’t done one time; hopefully there have been multiple contacts over the past few weeks. Remember, a year from now people are going to look back and remember who it was that demonstrated care by periodically checking-in.
SWOT: If there was ever a time to take stock and consider the organization’s Strengths and Weaknesses, and the Opportunities and Threats that now exist, it is now! What have the past few weeks revealed about your organization’s ability to adapt? What leaders have emerged on your staff? What weaknesses or gaps have been revealed? What opportunities present themself in this new environment? The whole playing field and many of the rules are changing; this is the time to be doing some strategic planning.
A New Vision: Hopefully this entire situation has served to reaffirm your organization’s core values and mission, and it will be those same elements that will serve as guidance as you plan your vision to thrive in the post-COVID-19 world. As you look at the next 8-12 months, what is your vision? A year from now, how will you measure success? Will your organization emerge from all of this as a survivor, or one that is thriving? Having a vision that serves as a rallying cry for all is what will make the difference.
Our current crisis has, and will likely continue to transform the way we live our lives and do business for generations to come. Much of what we took for granted will become a thing of the past and new norms will emerge. We are on the brink of a new world that brings fresh opportunities and challenges while reshaping many existing ones, and as difficult as it may be, we need to embrace them. To thrive in this new world we need a new vision because, “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto!”
Embrace the Challenge