Every day this week, we’ve published parts of an article on how leaders and managers can avoid social isolation and engage their people in working towards success in the post COVID-19 world.

We’ve been here before

We always have a choice

Working in isolation: what does good look like?

after yourself

How are
you doing?

Day Two: We always have a choice

We’ve been listening intently to our colleague Edwin Van Vlierberghe recently. Formerly Global VP at Bombardier, and with a long history of senior roles in large organisations, Edwin has now left the corporate world to share his knowledge and expertise as a member of our international  workplace innovation community.

Edwin has faced many challenging situations in his leadership career, often in ‘crisis’ situations whose outcomes would be critical for employees and even for whole plants. At each key moment he has challenged orthodoxy and refused to accept the ‘obvious’ solution, arguing that there is always a choice.

That is no less true with the COVID-19 challenge, and here is Edwin’s binary choice model:

Immediate Reaction: Focus on NOW Future Orientation: Focus on OPPORTUNITY
We see the company as a flow of money, so we focus on costs and cash We see the company as a rich collection of competencies, entrepreneurial possibilities, creativity and passion – not defined as costs but as an investment with a huge potential return
Do you recognise these characteristics?
• Stop all activities involving external people/organisations
• Stop supplies and push them back to suppliers
• Send people home (let the State pay)
• Stop or delay all investments
• Focus on safeguarding cash
Do you recognise these characteristics?
• From an internal focus to a focus on customers & suppliers – strengthening the relationships
• From product/service provider to a problem-solver for the customer
• Create smarter, more agile ways of working for an unpredictable business environment.
• Make our workplace innovations visible
• Absorb and assimilate ideas, practices and emerging trends from many and diverse sources.
• Use this moment to increase the speed of innovation
• Reflect on: “what does this mean for me (as leader), and for us (as employees)?”
• How can we change lost business into delayed business?
• How do we want to position ourselves with our customers and suppliers for when the recovery happens?
• Can we create synergies and partnerships with other companies?

All the economic projections show that the COVID- 19 will lead to very negative consequences for business and the economy as a whole. We know from past economic crises that companies suffering the worst long-term loss of competitiveness are those that were driven by short term, cost-driven reactions. Others use the moment of crisis as an opportunity to take a long, hard look at their organisations and cultures, to engage workforces in reinventing dysfunctional ways of working, and be ready to leap ahead when the moment comes.

Of course many companies will also be straddling the two responses, struggling to move towards the right-hand column but unclear how to proceed.

This is when we can help – talk to us to explore your options.