“Your goal today should be to know more than you knew yesterday about the things you were not aware of the day before that!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
You need new knowledge, skills, insight, and capabilities each and every day to get through our new complex economy – you need organizational dexterity.
Our world has been a rocket ride the last many months in our slow return to pre-Covid times. Things are changing so fast, that it seems that every week is a new week – what with broken supply chains, challenging skills, and HR issues, complex scenarios in scaling back operations (I’m looking at you, airlines!) Every single organization is operating at a speed that was incomprehensible before the pandemic; while we spoke of the need for corporate agility before, our world now demands something much more.
My belief is that was unfolding here is a new skill and cultural foundation that I’ve come to call organizational dexterity. We need to be able to constantly twist and turn, adapt to new dynamics, and shift to new demands and challenges. What worked for us before will no longer work for us going forward. Reflecting, these are the lessons I’ve learned about what leaders need to do (and today’s quote is to be found within the first bullet)
- Learn as you go. You are an expert at nothing in this new world and an amateur at everything. Just-in-time knowledge has long been my key skills watchword. It’s now a reality. Your goal should be to know WAY MORE today than you knew a month ago about things you were not aware of two months ago. My thirst for new knowledge is now at an all-time high.
- Keep your plan vague: don’t overdo it. The old world had us in long, luxurious planning cycles. That’s gone – both the time horizon and the certainty of the plan. Speed matters more than a plan, more so than ever before. It’s OK to figure things out as you go.
- Make mistakes. Don’t be scared. Learn from them. Repeat. For a long time, the mantra has been to fail often, fail early, and fail fast. While the idea is often rightfully criticized, there is now no doubt that speed has taken over our agenda, and we must respond accordingly.
- Go for the small wins. This is not about excellence. This is about achievement.
- Work the criticism. When you get it wrong, take the lumps. Listen to the critics. Learn from what they tell you. Use it as an opportunity to do better.
- Keep the faith: don’t give up. There is no immediate return like there was in the past because complexity can obscure the win. But when they happen – oh, they are SO much better!
- Collaborate more. See ‘learn as you go‘ above. The global hive mind is your new best friend. Learn how to harness its riches.
- Modify more. See ‘vague plan.’ If you had the planning wrong, adjust the plan. What should you be doing online a month from now? Heck, I don’t know. You’ll know when you get there!
- Think longer term. This too shall pass! Everything you do today might have a return tomorrow, even if we have no idea yet what that might be. Because – what’s the alternative?
- Embrace the uncertainty. It’s here, it’s everywhere, and it’s not going away. Accept it, and let it motivate you rather than detract you.
Do it now.