There were good old days when businesspeople can talk about doing business as usual. Today, they are lucky who can still do business: business as unusual, though. As a consequence of the pace of changes and complexity, there are few, if any, who can say they could still operate the same way, only making some little adjustments. The rest of us, we need to cope with disruption.
Efficiency as a driver
In a business as usual kind of world, people tend to maximize efficiency. They know the game and the rules. Success is about maximizing results; they are measured by the outcome. The question there is about what they could do, and they’re not doing to get more with less. That’s the way many operated for the last decades.
When processes and procedures have been designed to be as efficient as possible and changes show up, waiting for the situation to go back to the past (with minor changes) is common. At the end of the day, there’s time and money already invested.
Acknowledging things won’t be the same requires 50% vision and 50% courage. Reframing the thinking and questioning about what should be done instead of what could be done requires some nerve. It’s a change of mindset: searching for opportunities instead of productivity, in the first place, and yet taking care of the results to avoid collapse.
A leader should look for the business while coping with disruption. The future is not what it used to be, and the past will never come back; searching for opportunities should be something natural, but it’s not.
Everyone needs something called psychological safety. This is the belief that they won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes. This need is also true for leaders, even those in top positions. Essentially, nobody will take risks if they fear of the consequences. Let’s say that people require to feel uncomfortable and yet safe to search for opportunities.
Create the right conditions
If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together(*). Anyone can’t search for opportunities alone, it’s too complex; therefore, leaders need to create the right conditions for everyone to feel safe in sharing different points of view, helping in considering new ways of thinking.
This has also to do with making mistakes. Celebrating failure is key to provide positive reinforcement for innovations, even though they don’t always work. And again, for the leader, this requires some nerve. Being ready for failure while struggling with a crisis is taking serious risks, but it’s the only way to find new blue oceans.
Since the game and rules have changed, leaders and companies require acknowledging with the fact that maybe continuous growth and better results shouldn’t be pursued in the first place; that sometime might be needed to reshape strategies and look for new ways to do things. And, that in this business as unusual world, they should consider that maybe what they know is limiting their capacity to learn new things and solve new problems.