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A Crisis Is a Terrible Thing to Waste!

Date Posted: December 13, 2019

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

― Paul Romer

It seems that time has gone by faster than normal in 2019.

Suddenly, volatility uncertainty, contradiction and ambiguity are here to stay.

Political, economic and social conditions, both domestically and internationally,  have imposed a psychological state of permanent anxiety in many individuals, including executives, shareholders and board members.

Conversations in business gatherings and social meetings are populated by opinions, though variables for realistic planning in the personal, professional and organizational domains remain difficult to understand, to evaluate and  to forecast.

Design of realistic scenarios is increasingly difficult. Calculation of probabilities more complex.

In this context, carefulness, savings, risk aversion, cost reduction, suspended growth plans, delays in decision making, over-analysis  and  microscopic care of cash flow are, simultaneously, consequence and cause of an uneasy sensation of stagnation at best, and  full blown fear of  imminent and inescapable disaster, at worst.

Perceptions blend with reality and morph into a “new normal”.

Anxiety seems to be one of the factors that permeates the global organizational Zeitgeist.

Those who have not only faced, but have seized opportunities- which always surface during times of crisis – and some precisely because of it –  refer that their golden moments have flourished during these uncertain times.

Performing as an individual contributor or leader of  a complex organization with effectiveness, efficiency and viability in the short, medium and long term, during circumstances of crisis produced by an adverse context,  requires an entirely different configuration of competencies and abilities  from those required to solve problems generated by favorable circumstances.

The speed and depth with which these  competencies and abilities are recognized and/or acquired by organizations and leaders is key for survival and should permeate a good portion of the agenda of board meetings.

Suggested talking points would be:

“Do we have the skills, competencies, behaviors and knowledge necessary to face the current circumstances and take advantage of the opportunities in our organization?”

“If not, can we generate them internally? Do we need to look for them in the marketplace and bring them on board?”

“Why should a high performing professional, with the skills we seek, with the right cultural fit, be interested in our particular company at this precise moment?”

“What kind of message are we spreading within the organization that strengthens or weakens our “Employment Brand ?”

A handful of firms and executives transform, adapt, reinvent themselves, undergo metamorphosis and resurface with strength with testimonials like these:

“We had a couple of leaders who managed to move from prudent pessimism to proactive optimism and infect people around them”.

“We played the last card to generate an organizational culture that is adaptive, creative, proactive, resilient and positive”.

“We increased investment in developing competencies required by the new circumstances in our leaders, at all levels.”

“We made sure to retain critical talent and that it had opportunities for greater responsibility and freedom of decision.”

“We developed a relentless ability to identify top performing talent.”

“Even in times of reduced budgets and hiring freeze, we had the courage to attract high performing talent that demonstrated cultural fit.”

The empirical reality has shown, time and again, that when conditions are favorable, more people are needed, even without the complete desired competencies, and when conditions are adverse, fewer but far better people are required, with not much space for incomplete competencies.

If we do an exercise of honest self-analysis of  human capital and the configuration of its competencies in our organizations, we will probably find  opportunities for action on which we can act immediately.

Raising the talent bar and agile work on the transformation of organizational culture are  indeed competitive advantages that, in times like these, trigger real personal and organizational change and allow organizations to seize unbelievable opportunities.

The time to move forward is NOW!

Have a successful 2020!