Crisis management certainly isn’t my calling. Not just professionally, the following highlights represent the key areas of enlightenment in the last month or so since this crisis started.
They are most certainly ‘My observations only’, and shouldn’t be construed as anything more than an Easter weekend contemplation session that I have decided to publicly publish.
I’m also aware that many, possibly millions worldwide, are not so fortunate as to be permitted ‘quiet reflection in their backyard’. By all accounts, I, my family and my business are fearing ok. Whilst we may be disrupted – we are far safer than so many others, and that will continue to sombre any feelings of comfort that do creep in at this time.
So, on to my lessons and reflections. These are in no particular order, except the first one – which is aptly placed as the umbrella to all the others.
What have I learnt?
People are amazing.
The extraordinary capacity people have when they apply themselves, and the immense incomparable value that good people have to organisations and each other.
I’m blessed to be surrounded by a team of absolute champions. At every level, every individual bar-none has demonstrated concentrated excellence. This is the most profound thing I am grateful for, and my expectations and capacity for collective effort have been expanded.
Select, train and equip people without compromise and there can be no single other more comprehensive investment you can make.
Synergy is immensely valuable.
The difference between a collection of individuals pointing in the right direction and ones that are not is astounding. Whatever mechanism chosen for achieving aligned behaviour – the responsiveness that is available by unified effort is very effective.
We have achieved in 3 weeks more strategic, systemic and efficient production than we did in the previous 10 – thanks hugely to well-communicated focussed outcomes.
It has taken this COVID-19 crisis to demonstrate the difference between even slight misalignment and good synergy. I am eager to see the capability of that applied to more ‘normal’ operations.
Just because you adapt to a crisis, does not mean others do.
The past few weeks have been tumultuous. The pace of adaption required has been extensive. Or not?
Initially, I assumed all others were acting with similar ferocity to make immediate changes and get ahead of the next wave of challenges that this COVID-19 crisis will (or is) presenting. Our focus was immediately on internal changes – the relocation of staff, the wellbeing of our team, and our financial stability. We pivoted as quickly as possible to pre-emptive activity focussed on system modifications, external engagement and future workload.
As we came up for air (around the middle of last week), it was obvious we were not side-by-side with others. Many had already published quite specific reports on how to be resilient, and there were others still figuring out if they could have staff sit at home and get paid or not.
The tangible result of this cross-section is – we are all connected. Just because we had some semblance of appropriate action didn’t mean our clients or suppliers did. We were too early for some and too late for others to coordinate on how we would continue to interact.
We are still pushing some of our key stakeholders for information on their activity (even during this lockdown phase) whilst others are already pushing us for outputs were haven’t enacted yet. An acute awareness of other people’s journeys would have been valuable from day one. I might be dreaming, but it’s a lesson all the same – we can’t race ahead without bringing those we rely on with us.
Communicate like there is no tomorrow.
Use absolutely every medium at your disposal. Be honest, be direct, and be compassionate. When other people lose themselves, they are relying on you not to. If you are a leader – this is sacrosanct.
From day one I began company-wide update videos every afternoon/evening. Whilst these have slowed in recent days, it was my way of making sure I was confidently transparent. Our recent company survey yesterday revealed that single action alone had a significant impact, and rallied our team both personally and professionally.
You get more people on board and adapted quickly with sincere regular communication than by any other simple activity.
Weaknesses are so easily exposed.
Where during normal times, weaknesses and complacency are hidden and absorbed – during a crisis they are laid bare. If you fly too close to the sun during BAU, you’ve got no room to manoeuvre and the speed at which our world has changed in such a short time is unrivalled in most of our lifetimes. If anyone doesn’t have more entrenched respect for the risk-averse person in the room now – they’re inhuman.
I’ve had an abrupt adjustment to my perception of what essential costs are, what risk looks like, and what ‘dramatic adjustment’ means. I will forever have a heightened awareness and respect for the question of ‘what if’ and have an exaggerated response to it for some time to come.