An Exclusive Collection of Resources for Navigating the Future of Organizations, Work and HR Post-COVID
The New Long Life
We celebrate companies that can bounce back faster, better, and cheaper. But is “getting back to normal” the right way to look at this unique moment of shared global crisis? Can something better be achieved by not “getting back to normal?”
Navi Radjou, Fellow at the University of Cambridge and innovation and leadership advisor, challenges the notion that individuals and businesses should rush to return to how things were before the pandemic. While we do not know what type of recovery is ahead for the economy—a bounce back v-shaped, the double dip w-shaped, or a more prolonged recovery—now is the time to dig deeper and focus our energy on Back to Being Better, not just doing better.
Back to Being Better
Unlike the unconscious return to doing better, Back to Being Better is a conscious deep reinvention of ourselves and our organizations. Being Better requires us to look at:
- how we see the world—perspective
- why we exist—purpose
- who we are—core values
This expands awareness and allows for a bigger social and ecological impact.
Spear in the Chest
In the early 90’s Interface CEO Ray Anderson had a “spear in the chest epiphany” when he realized that businesses like his industrial carpet company were directly related to environmental degradation. His shift in perspective that allowed him to see that business could directly affect the improvement of the environment led to a new purpose and core identity—to become “a restorative company” that has a positive impact. They not only reduced their carbon footprint to zero, but are now working to take more carbon from the atmosphere with regenerative processes and products.
Back2Better: What “spear in the chest epiphany” have you experienced? That is a place to start digging into and ultimately aiming for a more audacious return to better with deeper impact.
Proactive and Conscious Reinvention
At critical times, we are primed to make proactive and conscious choices to reinvent. Decathlon, one of the world’s largest retailers, went on a journey of conscious reinvention in 2016 called 2026 Vision. However, last year, they realized the world was changing faster than anticipated so they refreshed their vision and launched Vision 2030. When the pandemic hit, Decathlon morphed its newly-completed vision into Vision 2021. The crisis accelerated the pace of change and Decathlon recognized that it provided a window of opportunity to make serious systematic changes quickly.
Back2Better: If you think the future is far away, think again. Now is the time to make a courageous bridge between knowing what is the right choice and doing it. Heightened awareness is key but you must move to urgent action. The world is changing so fast and the crisis is an opportunity to reinvent today.
The people of Loos-en-Gohelle, France, a mining town that had once been an economic engine, experienced high unemployment health issues and shame related to their city’s past as a mass polluter. Like an alchemist, Mayor Jean-Francois Caron, helped the city reinvent itself from one of the most polluted cities to one of the cleanest—honoring and integrating their past while transmuting their shame into a healthy pride. The city is now a World Heritage site and Europe’s first Green Startup incubator.
Back2Better: The crisis has brought a great deal of fear to employees. Great leaders can transmute fear into hope by honoring the past, no matter how traumatic, as you reinvent the future.
If you only focus on what you do, you miss the opportunity to go back to being better. Take this unprecedented opportunity provided by the crisis to examine your perspective, purpose, and values. Use the epiphanies you are having, proactively reinvent yourself today while still honoring the past from whence you came. There may never be another global opportunity of this magnitude in which you can become a better you and a better organization.
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