All great changes are preceded by chaos. -Deepak Chopra
Yes, we are living in challenging and uncertain times. Some might call this chaos, but I wouldn’t go that far at all. We will get through this. And when we do, we have a lot to take away from this crisis. This post is my take on one of those learnings. I’ll have more over the next few weeks.
Deepak Chopra’s quote hit me hard over the last couple of weeks because of this: We have seen that, through uncertainty and uncharted times, when change is needed, it can and will and does happen. We can innovate if we need to. We can repurpose if we need to. We can be nimble. We can do things differently if we need to. We can band together for a common cause/purpose if we need to. We can change if we need to.
I’m calling bullshit on the “change is not easy in our company” or “we can’t change” excuses going forward. If companies can pivot and manufacture completely different products or can move their entire workforce from the office to their homes, then perhaps it’s not “that hard.” We’re learning a lot about ourselves right now, as individuals and as businesses. The important thing is to take those learnings and view this as an opportunity to do things differently going forward.
Arundhati Roy noted in her Financial Times article a few days ago an interesting notion about difficult times being a portal for change: Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. …we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.
She also noted: And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.
While I’m not comparing organizational change to what’s happening in India or in rest of the world or stating that you’ve built a doomsday machine instead of a viable, thriving brand, the words are important and relevant. You’ve just been exposed to your business’ greatest vulnerabilities and performance improvement opportunities. But when times are tough, you cannot just bear down, work through it the best you can, and return to normal, whatever that was. You will (and must) have a new normal.
It was Einstein who said: We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. This is true. Change is inevitable – with or without your involvement.
[Outside of the current crisis… and yes, you need to continue to think about this, even as you deal with the critical issues of today, or you’ll get run over when life returns to “normal” … ] What’s dragging your company down? What are your company’s pain points? What business situation is your portal from current state to future state? When I ask prospects and clients that question, the answer is usually something along the lines of: “We’re losing customers” or “Our revenue is down” or “Employee churn is through the roof.” How will you do things differently going forward and keep from returning to business as usual?
Change. It’s possible. (Yes, it’s hard work.) It’s a matter of choice. It’s about priorities. It requires understanding and focus. It requires leadership. It’s a mindset shift. It means thinking (and then doing) differently. It’s short-term pain for long-term gains.
The bottom line: You’ll change when you want to. You’ll change when you need to. You’ll change when the pain is so bad that all you can do is change. You’ll change because it’s the right thing to do. Or your business will die/fail.
Survival of the fittest. You choose.
Every negative experience holds the seed of transformation. -Alan Cohen