Research has shown that 58% of businesses reinvent themselves at least every three years. Think about that for a second. With Covid-19, one of those times likely for an even greater percentage is now. The question is how do you adapt? So, what should you do? These three suggestions from the Harvard Business Review are to flip conventional thinking. They are:
Rather than “follow best practices” “share your failures”
Rather than “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it” to “fix it anyway
Rather than “control your assets” to “share your assets”
The HBR article takes a look at these suggestions and provides you with some ideas looking directly at business results. In this blog article additional thoughts are presented for you to consider based on this author’s personal experiences. Both hopefully give you some food for thought from different perspectives to help you going forward.
Share your failures
As an instructor for the last three years with the National Speakers Association Speaker Academy here in the twin cities, I have had the pleasure to work with some very talented professional speakers. We have a curriculum; we bring in outside successful presenters; and we help those that want to become professional speakers. Along the way some have taken to sharing what has not worked. That takes courage. Who are willing to share things that did not work? That is often counter intuitive. Don’t we want to know what worked?
The students take on each lesson. They network in small groups. They apply what they have learned to their own speaking business. However, the most profound insights consistently come from those that share what they did wrong. For some it took them years to figure out something, but once they did, they understood.
The insights from your failures are particularly profound. The students appreciate knowing what did not work and the lessons learned from the experiences.
Others share what they are trying right now and that they don’t know if it will work or not. Either way they are trying something new and they are giving it their best shot. Again, this takes some courage. By sharing what they are trying, while hoping that it works, but not really knowing if it will work, that demonstrates risk taking. That is what business is all about. The greater the risk, hopefully the greater rewards. You don’t know until you try your idea. Then you need to be flexible and adapt to the situation.
That’s the first point. Share your failures. This encourages others to be fearless and offer their ideas too.
Fix it anyway
Just because something is working now, does that mean there isn’t an even better way, a different way, a way to compliment what you are doing now so that you may be even better in the future? It is suggested that pausing once a quarter to do some strategic thinking is a good idea. Write down your thoughts, and determine what action items you are going to take going forward. This can be very helpful. In this way you can look out some time frame into the future (say two years from now under normal circumstances – next quarter under trying circumstances) and ask yourself, what will it take for me (us) to get there? Think of this in terms of business results, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, training, leadership development, diversity expansion, succession planning etc. Why?
In my case I have found that doing this quarterly and considering two years out was very successful for almost 9 years. This has caused a whole host of positive changes over time. In the first week of April this year immediately after the first quarter with Covid-19, this caused me to make a major pivot. My focus is on three profit centers. These are consulting, speaking and writing. After careful consideration I made some significant changes. Consulting on conflict resolution has expanded and so has leadership development related to collaboration. If there ever was a time to collaborate with others to enhance both parties now is the time. This has caused me to reach out to some other parties for collaboration.
Speaking engagements shifted from 60% virtual to 100% virtual for me. I selected a new publisher for my 12th book. This major shift has materialized by more than I could have ever imagined.
Work as a mediator, facilitator, negotiator has expanded with all of the conflicts brought on with Covid-19. Normally I give 4 to 6 presentations a month. Last week I had seven presentations and this week I have six presentations. My book is has already gone through the first stage of editing, requiring me to respond quicker as the publisher wants to bring it to market sooner. We have already had our first full edit within 30 days. That is unbelievable. This normally takes months.
Stopping to consider where you are, where you want to be, and what you need to stop, start, and keep doing are critical. Then writing down specific actions and carrying them out are key.
Once they are written down as an action plan to make improvements, they can be changed as circumstances change. However, having written them down, you can simply make the appropriate change.
Share your assets
What are your assets? Generally, many think financially when considering assets focusing on both tangible assets and intangible assets. In this case as a service entity, my assets are value added assets for my clients.
Consider what you have and give it away. As a mentor give it away.
As a professional speaker I attempt to give away two presentations at no cost monthly. As a business person the first call with me is complimentary. It may take 15 minutes or it may take an hour. Either way it doesn’t matter. With 5,800 contacts my network is fairly extensive. It is my pleasure to share what I know with others to help them if I can. If I know someone that can help, I am happy to refer them to that person too. This has not been done with the perspective of what’s in it for me, or with the anticipation that I will receive something in return one day.
By helping out someone in need there truly is a positive feeling for simply being helpful. Others appreciate being helped. Together we are making the world a better place. I would be lying if I didn’t say that at times positive things come back to me. That is others that I have helped may refer me to others or may come back to me for help. What is the bottom line? Simply be there to help. Share your assets. You may be surprised what the impact is on how you feel and how it may come back to you in totally unexpected ways.
There it is with a twist. I suggest you read the Harvard Business Review article on organizational change. My take is a bit different. However, I think both approaches have some insights that will benefit you going forward.
About the author
Mike is a professional speaker, mediator/negotiator that helps clients resolve issues and be more productive as a conflict resolution expert. Is conflict blocking your results? You may contact Mike directly at email@example.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 11 books including, The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]