What has the Pandemic made possible?

17 Oct 2020
Carrie Birmingham

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In a catch up with an HR Director recently, we compared notes on our lockdown experience and learning.  She has a number of challenges to navigate; reopening a venue that has been closed to the public, balancing the books as customer visits are controlled, and answering some big questions that have arisen about purpose. She sat back in her chair, and asked me the question:

If you were me, what would you be thinking about?

I paused, It’s a great question.

My response; look for for the positive things that have been possible over the last six months, those that had previously felt impossible.  Then find ways to embed them into your culture.  Want to know why?

A crisis makes new things possible.  Prior to COVID – 19, many felt working from home was undesirable and impossible and yet when push came to shove, it was possible and, for many preferable to commuting.

A crisis can accelerate something you wanted to do, or fix a problem that exists.

This situation reminds me of Dweck’s description of a growth mindset, as “thriving on challenge and seeing failure not as evidence of stupidity, but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing ability.”  With clients, we look for ways to apply this growth mindset to organisational culture.  You can start this by understand what positive changes the pandemic has enabled in your team?

As an example, one of my clients found that active collaboration between teams has increased because working virtually had forced them to be creative.

Like a rubber band, if we don’t take conscious action, we can find that things have pinged back to how they were before.  So we need to look at how to leverage the positives that have emerged, to cultivate the green shoots.

Getting on the Balcony

To do this means getting on the balcony to get a more holistic perspective, looking at the whole rather than the parts to ‘see’ the larger patterns.  So often we get swept up in the details and action, and if we are ‘in the woods’ it can be hard to see.  So we need to build our capacity to move between the field of action and the balcony.

A recent HBR article talked about culture change being a movement not a mandate and I really like this invitation.  It invites us to think about how we can start a movement, so invite your colleagues to join you on the balcony and talk about what they notice.  Initiating these conversations with colleagues can bring to the surface some diverse and insightful perspectives.

Where you spot something positive, ask yourself and explore with colleagues: How could we embed this in how we work in the future?  Because it you don’t, you may ping back to old habits as you start to transition to the “new normal”.

So What?

As you read this blog, ask yourself:

  • From the balcony, what positive changes has COVID-19 made possible in your business?
  • How could you initiate conversations with colleagues about this?
  • How could you start a movement that supports these positive changes to become part of how you work?