Is It Really “Impossible”? Stop the Excuses

Some of the changes we’ve seen take place during the pandemic, such as engaged workers successfully working at home productively, actually are continuations of trends that started prior to 2020 (e.g.,  the rise of “gig” workers). At the same time, new trends were started… and now is the time to focus on some which will have positive outcomes in the post-pandemic era. In “The Important Role of “Responder’ in Leadership”, the author, a retired Navy captain, reminds us that one is to increase the extent to which we should challenge limiting beliefs; let’s unleash our potential for growth.

Among many important points she makes concerning leadership, is Dr. Morro’s comment that we can turn “predicaments into progress”.  “When I ran a VA hospital in rural Georgia, I knew telehealth would open us up to recruit better talent and the level of care we needed. We had such modest goals because of buy-in, regulation requirements, and adoption – then COVID hit and wiped those barriers away. What would have taken years to implement happened in a matter of days.”

In the first months of the pandemic, I shared examples of seemingly “impossible” feats of people and companies, as reported by McKinsey & Company and other observers.  Activities that were considered impossible to do or take years to implement, were accomplished in days and weeks because the goals outweighed worrying about the “resistance”. 

For instance, in one of McKinsey’s best reports on this topic, From Surviving to Thriving: Business after Coronavirus, they relate the story of a leading retailer who was exploring how to launch a curbside-delivery business; the plan stretched over 18 months. When the COVID-19 lockdown hit the United States, it went live in two days. There are many more examples of faster, smarter, ways of thinking.

Suddenly the need to keep business going by empowering responsible people to do the “right thing” enabled people to work from home on imperfect devices, without all the rules, regulations, safeguards, etc. that “centralized” office teams” had been using to slow progress. It may not have always been perfect, but with the right intentions, it generally worked. The key was to assess the risk, and then learn from the experience until a new better, faster, and/.or cheaper solution was apparent.

Think of things you, your family and close friends/colleagues were engaged in throughout this last year; how often did the traditional norms and rules serve as limitations and restrictions – only to lose those powers as we progressed forward? We thought we had to work during ”working hours” but now we create them by adding in time that used to be used for commutes; we thought deals needed our personal presence; Zoom filled the gap and will in many cases continue to do so.

As we forge the new “post-pandemic” normal, challenge assumptions, reduce red-tape, find new ways to be agile and service-oriented. Control has shifted; this is your chance to make the next normal more conducive to more responsive, efficient and effective processes!

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