Is it Wednesday? No, I think it’s Tuesday… er, wait… I’m not sure what day it is anymore!
They all blend into one, don’t they – just another notch on the Covid wall. Sometimes it can feel like an age since this all began, and at other times it feels like only yesterday that we went into lockdown.
At week five of lockdown in the UK, time has started to become a wibbly and confusing thing. The notion of 9-5 has slowly eroded as we navigate global time zones and new working patterns are developed from home.
Many organisations have had to rethink their business model, and to do it at lighting speed. They’ve had to organise different ways of working, shift perspectives, make vital decisions, move their entire workforce to home-working, protect assets, create new revenue streams, make difficult decisions about cutting staff and services, and learn to do different work and to do work differently – all in the space of a few weeks.
And now with barely time to blink, we seem to be entering a new phase of Covid-19. Things appear to be slowing down but still with no real endpoint in sight; we are left waiting for a very different future to emerge whilst carrying on with business as usual.
I’ve always liked this quote about change by the futurologist Alvin Toffer:
‘Change is the process by which the future invades our lives, and it is important to look at it closely, not merely from the grand perspectives of history, but also from the vantage point of the living, breathing individuals who experience it.’
Well, we’re all experiencing this as the future has indeed invaded our lives. It is imperative to look to each other and focus on what we are learning about ourselves, and more importantly, what we are learning about our businesses. We need to think about which services are vital to the functioning of society and which are easily replaced.
Last Saturday evening I watched match of the day, which involved a conversation about the three pundits’ favourite games. They rewatched classic games and commented on the drama at the time and the technical display of skills. It was nostalgic but nowhere near as enjoyable as watching highlights of games that you don’t know the result of – or even better, watching live sport. It was an appreciation of something through what Toffer calls the ‘grand perspective of history’. This phrase speaks to the benefits of hindsight, which allow us to look back and think about what we would have done differently. Now, I’m not suggesting that we need to run our organisations like live football games, but there is something to be learnt from this as it highlights something valuable: the relish of the unknown, the live learning in the moment, the ability to respond to conditions.
Have you considered what the implications for the future of your business will be? Have you stopped to think about how exactly you’ve done this? How are other people in your organisation doing this? What do your customers need from you now, and what will they need in the future?
Recently, a colleague shared a dream they’d had in which the lockdown had been lifted and we’d all returned to work. Although this was a happy occasion, they also admitted to feeling a strange sense of guilt for not making the most of it, and that there were still things to be done.
When we questioned them further, it wasn’t necessarily tangible things they felt they should have done, such as learning a new skill or getting super fit. It was more of a reflection on how we have used the time, not just to focus on the present, but to picture the future we want and not wait for it to happen to us.
There are so many things that are out of our control right now, but one thing each of us can control is how we reimagine the organisations we are part of. Who does it serve? How can we refocus this in a more humane and purposeful way that benefits everyone and not just select shareholders?
‘The process we use to get to the future is the future we will get’ – Myron Rogers.
In other words, what is the process you are using to reimagine the future of your business? What is the story you are telling yourself? What are you relying on to help you do this?
Dom Fitch is Head of Creative Change at Impact and would love to talk to you about your journey to tomorrow. You can connect with him here.