Understanding Urgency vs. Importance
This may sound self-evident, but it is amusing how organizations avoid facing up to the toughest challenges ahead. One reason is our natural response to crises. We become short-sighted and push aside all that is not urgent. Once we have fixed what is urgent, we feel we deserve a good rest. In several of the teams we interact we might notice there is a tendency to either fail to see the coming challenges or to rationalize, “When Covid-19 is over, we will address the problem.”
Leaders and teams must avoid this temptation. While rest is vital, inactivity after a crisis can backfire. In military units, for example, boredom and waiting time are perceived as more stressful than actual combat. You would be surprised to know that in the study “The Challenges of the Disengaged Mind,” researchers found that when people were ordered to sit in a room and do nothing, they chose to give themselves electric shocks rather than pass the time in silence. Most people seem to prefer to do something rather than nothing, even if that something is unproductive or even harmful in this case. It is better to act and make a decision than not to act. In other words, the consequences are often greater if you decide not to act than if you do act. A willingness to take risks is a precondition for being able to act under pressure or in demanding situations.
Even though your project executions have been successful throughout Covid-19, if you chose not to rest on your achievements but to ask: “How do we turn the short-term momentum into long-term advantages?” Ask your team to come up with ideas for the future and set up a task force with high-performing talents from across your teams. Specifically, ask themto consider the steps they could take here and now, steps that would in the years to come eventually become longer-term competitive advantages.
Another approach would be to ask yourself and your colleagues whether you are in fact fully prepared for the frenzy and confusion that will inevitably kick off in the wake of the vaccine. Companies will clamour to win back lost business and reclaim lost customers. For many businesses, dealing with the aftermath will be just as intense as dealing with the crisis.
Ask yourself and your teams: Are you doing all you can do to emerge from the crisis as a stronger unit? The window for change may be closing and the time to turn good intentions into action is now to transform the world around us.