The Invisible Crisis – Coronavirus Time and The Power of Vision and Right Context

 John Ruh  Continuous Improvement, Leadership, Vision

As leaders, we need to ask ourselves at least three hard questions.

  1. Who are we?
  2. Given our individual circumstances during the COVID environment, what must our vision now be?
  3. What is the needed context/set of right beliefs that will support success in our coming market?

Brief History

Society and the human experience have changed dramatically in the past 6 months, and the pace of change is accelerating at record speed with no slowdown in sight. Perhaps now, more than any other time in most of our lives, uncertainty rules over predictability. In fact, if history is any indicator, it will continue to increase. If we are going to remain relevant in the not-too-distant future, we must be prepared to adapt. This means unless you, individually, and as a team/company, are not committed and prepared to be agile and evolve, you may become obsolete. The key is to recognize how your market is changing, accept it, then make the changes that ensure your survival and success. Change can be a gratifying experience. It can be inspiring and help you avoid being blindsided and experiencing unnecessary business pain and suffering.

1970s, 1980s, and the Internet Boom

Most Boomers remember it was not that long ago, in the 1970s and 1980s, when the pace of business was more leisurely. You would talk to your customer on the phone and follow with a letter or proposal through the U.S. post office suggesting, “Let’s get together next week.” Most people stayed at one company for years or a lifetime. They received free health insurance, defined pension plans and/or a company-paid profit-sharing plan. If you are under age 50, you may not remember this.

In the 80s, a drastic change occurred. Fax machines, leading-edge technology of the day, came into being and the speed of business increased dramatically. In the late 80s and early 90s downsizing, which we now take for granted, became a business reality. This created instability in all our lives. A stable, lifelong job no longer existed except in the public sector, and now even that is no longer the case.

In the mid-90s the Internet came along and changed everything. Worldwide access and instant communication became available 24 hours a day. Whiz kids like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook created new channels of communication, and entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs put Internet technology in your hands so you are always connected. Many professionals are working nearly 24 hours/day, and some even sleep with their phones beside them so they are always available.

So Now What?
Three Steps to Consider:

  1. Recreate a Powerful Vision
    In order to do this, you must first stop and create space in your life for time to look forward and see what is coming. Then, create a written, simple, yet powerful vision with some clear short-term goals that everyone can rally around. As Joel Barker so wisely says, “Vision and only vision gives direction.”
  2. Next, you need the Right Context to support your vision
    Think of all great achievements and you will see a context that allows them to happen. Context is deeper than attitude. Think of the power of creating a Michael Jordan context toward winning the game day in and day out without taking shortcuts (Jordan does not believe in shortcuts).
  3. Put in Place a 365 Wheel of Continuous Improvement
    What is this you might ask? A program that makes continuous improvement a habit like brushing your teeth. Consider making continuous improvement/innovation a core value with a simple process to review weekly with the focus on acknowledgement. Do NOT wait until you “have to,” which is often too late. Playing catch-up long after you should have changed is a very painful, (and dangerous), way to manage your life and your business.

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