Already, the disruptions caused by COVID-19 have businesses scrambling to adapt to rapidly changing economic and interpersonal environments. Owners, managers and CEOs are asking:
“What’s the best way to relate to this sink-or-swim scenario that we suddenly find ourselves in?”
In this post, we’ll explore in-depth the kind of creative adaptability that will be required—and which will not only help businesses survive but also allow them to thrive in these newly evolving circumstances.
Change Is The Only Constant
In the business world—as in every other aspect of human life—change is the only real constant. Markets change, relationships transform, clients come and go. Tiny start-up companies become hugely successful; established corporations see their stock prices fall, and then rebound.
But this age-old adage—that change is the only constant—becomes even more evident during times of dramatic change characterized by a global crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, the changes are no longer subtle or gently cyclical. Instead, they’re vast, monumental, and paradigm-shifting.
The Silver Lining
Such dramatic changes require equally powerful adaptations, at personal and organizational levels. The silver lining is that even when such changes are initially uncomfortable, they can draw forth from us levels of creative genius that we didn’t even know we possessed.
And success in the face of such challenging circumstances breeds a kind of joyful confidence that’s unique and precious.
Many of you will already be familiar with neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor’s Ted Talk, My Stroke of Insight—an inspiring description of her experience of having a stroke. In the midst of this medical emergency, Ms. Taylor discovered a whole new way of being, rich beyond anything she could have imagined. Radical and uninvited change became a profound opportunity.
Now, of course, one would never wish this kind of catastrophic event on anyone. No one sets out to intentionally have a stroke, in the same way that no one sets out intentionally to be part of a global pandemic. But when related to skillfully, such events can be opportunities for deeply beneficial transformation.
A true warrior delights in battles with the fiercest of enemies—because she realizes that they make her stronger.
Change As Opportunity
In an earlier article, I pointed out the importance of flexibility to business success. I described how FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google)—the biggest tech companies in the world—prosper because they know how to pivot, how to adapt to changing circumstances such as:
- Evolution of search engine algorithms
- Faster computers and better internet connections which require a more sophisticated website design and development
- New ways of making websites mobile-friendly
- Social media platforms coming and going
- Revolutionary changes in digital marketing
I still wholeheartedly believe that adaptability is one of the most important characteristics a company can have. Such adaptability is one of nvision’s core values—and it is this commitment to the adaptability that has been key to nvision’s success.
And now, with COVID-19 upending existing business models, adaptability has never been more important. But what strategies, in particular, should business owners be applying—to navigate safely through these dramatic changes?
How Businesses Will Need To Change, Post COVID-19
Businesses are going to need an entirely new operating model. So, what are the characteristics of this model?
Most importantly, businesses need to offer products or services—and ways of interfacing with customers, clients and employees—that are genuinely useful to people navigating the COVID-19 crisis, and rebuilding their lives after the worst of it has passed.
In employee relations as well as via your marketing campaigns, convey genuine empathy and compassion. Make it clear that your company is prioritizing health and safety for its employees and customers alike, and articulate how exactly this is so.
Rational Analysis & Intuition
Aside from these general recommendations, the overall trajectory of your company’s adaptability will be uniquely its own. Because we’re in uncharted territory, there is no hard-and-fast formula for success.
When there’s no clear road map, sensitivity and intuitive intelligence become vital components of the sort of adaptability that you’ll need in coming years. You’re going to need to trust your gut and to listen to the still small voice of intuition.
Business leaders tend to rely primarily on logic, rational analysis, scientific evidence and statistical data when making important decisions. And while such information is of course indispensable in the decision-making process, intuitive knowledge can be equally valuable.
As the Oxford Leadership Consultants points out, the situations in which leaders most often rely upon intuition include:
- Times of crisis
- During high-speed change
- In a messy situation
- In an ambiguous situation
As you know, the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 qualify for all four of these categories!
We’ve long accepted IQ as a measure of intellectual intelligence, and increasingly consider emotional intelligence (EQ) to be important also. But intuitive intelligence may be the type of “smarts” most vital for success in the post-COVID-19 environment.
Steps To Expand Intuitive Intelligence
How does one go about cultivating intuitive intelligence? Again from the folks at Oxford Leadership:
“Somewhere in there among the worries, doubts, questions, advice, and roar of the crowd, lives your intuition, your ‘inner voice.’ You can hear it to the extent that you have honed your intuitive intelligence well enough to give it your undivided attention—and know yourself well enough to distinguish valid intuition from wishful thinking, ego or unwarranted attachment to an idea.”
Here are the five steps that they recommend, which feel right to me also, and which I’ve adapted to address our current situation.
1. Be present. Learn how to access—and rest in—the still silent “place” at the core of your being. A meditation practice helps, as does spending time in nature. Anything that supports a kind of relaxed attentiveness, like closing your eyes and following the movement of your breath—inhalation, exhalation—can help you be more present. With presence, you can see and hear clearly, without mental commentary or analysis; and without emotional reactivity.
2. Get the whole picture. From the space of presence, become intensely curious about the situation, i.e. the situation that your company currently is in. See it from as many different perspectives as you can: both up close, in all of its granular details; as well as from a bird’s-eye detached wide and long view.
3. Clarify your intention. Be clear about your company’s purpose. What do you wish to offer, and accomplish, and why?
4. Engage your values. What values and principles guide your company’s activity? When observing any specific situation—and searching for a right next move—your intention/purpose combined with your core values will catalyze a flash of insight: an “aha moment” that provides the intuitive answer.
5. Fierce resolve. Be confident and bold in taking action based upon your decision-making process. When intention, words and actions are aligned, you can trust intuitive intelligence—in concert with your rational mind’s facts and data—to guide your company’s adaptations to the current situation, no matter how daunting it may at first seem.
Here at NVISION, we’ve navigated lots of change in the past fifteen years. We have learned from it, gained invaluable experience from it, and I am confident that we’re all the better for it.
If you’d like to learn how we can leverage our expertise to help your business skillfully navigate your new environment, please contact us today.