Updated: Oct 13, 2022
by Mark Bergin
Over the coming months, I’ll be going long and hard on one concept: Fitness for the Future; getting to a better future is going to require fitness, and those with deeper stamina, grit, and focus will be the leaders.
'Business as unusual' is what most people have been living with since early 2020. The pandemic meant people needed to react quickly to mandatory changes, lockdowns, government policy, public health controls, changes in supply lines, the list goes on.
The challenge we now face is when to stop operating in 'unusual' mode and get back to 'usual'? The unfortunate news is it won’t be as simple as flicking a switch. We have been using different muscle groups for the last thirty months, and now we will need to exercise muscles that haven’t been used for some time. In other words, we are all a little unfit for the task ahead.
Framing it as fitness is helpful; we all know that just because you used to be fit, it doesn't necessarily mean you still are. The fact you used to be fit means you know what being fit is, so the path to fitness is less complex than for those who don’t know what being fit feels like. Returning to the optimal state will take discipline, and not just personal discipline; the team needs to be fit together. The 'business as unusual' methods need to be stamped out and 'business as usual' needs to be promoted and recognised.
For some, this will be hard because they might have become comfortable with this mode of operating over the last three years. The reality is that leaders can’t afford to have these attitudes or behaviours if they wish to achieve high or elite performance levels. If you keep the unusual mode running, you’ll slot into the middle or back of the performance stack. Leaders trying to get to the future faster know that’s not where they need to be.
Because this is a team exercise, it is important to bring people along, not just tell them to lift their game. Sparking imagination is always a better results delivery tool than riding performance. So, how can you get people to imagine 'business as usual'? It needs to be exciting, it needs to have structure and it needs to be worked through. Usual doesn't have to mean 'the exact same as before', and in fact it shouldn't. What it does signify is a return to optimal performance modes. I recommend you take your team on an expedition to the 'new business as usual'. Gather 5 to 15 souls together and focus on what that means to your group. Organise a series of sprints (15 to 25), set out over a 100-day period that will allow the group to explore a series of horizons that are both about future-casting and adapting to the new future they envision.
It isn’t about having a set formula. It’s a practice that enables our minds to set an objective, explore it through multiple generations and perspectives, and come out at the end of the 100 days as a cohesive, match-fit group, ready to operate in the future they co-created. Future leaders will be the fittest innovators and designers in the market.
If that's you, or you'd like it to be you, then get in touch. We’re delivering a hybrid program called WILD SPEED Futures that will help your team through the practice of imagining, co-creating and exploring the objectives that will help you to get fit and deliver 'business as usual'.