There is No Playbook

If there is ever a time for new thinking, new attitudes and new approaches, now would be it

 Dealing with a crisis of the magnitude and scope of COVID-19 forces a new set of behaviors and principles. Managing a multitude of organizational responses during this time, the one take-away that sticks out is that there is no “playbook” or guide from which to draw lessons or best practices.

Today is about New! And “New” directed at both mitigating the situational aspects of the crisis and getting back to basics or moving closer to the core of the business. It’s about rediscovering the value of the organization, eliminating bureaucracy, and encouraging dialogue, discussion and debate on the right topics that drive the business.

It’s about new ideas, new thinking, new focus and new pathways. It requires a fresh look at everything, zero-based assessment and planning. It means forcing ideation through circumstance and redirecting people’s attention to areas that accelerate progress and create impact. It takes creating a contemporary picture to prepare an organization to develop a new way to do things based on what’s happening now.

Here is what we are learning from this process in real time:

  1. Purpose is the Northstar–The path to achieving organizational success on a sustained basis goes in only one direction – purpose! Crisis tends to refocus a company’s purpose starting from the inside, reminding everyone what is important. It’s all about The Why.
  2. Ambiguity is the norm – As leaders and managersoperating in this environmentwhere there are no signs or guideposts to draw upon, tests our capabilities and perseverance to move forward. It’s about being adept at navigating in a cloud of uncertainty.
  3. Analytics displaces assumption– Incorporating data and insight into decision-making, from people’s behaviors, interests and concerns to patient or customer perspectives, greatly improves guidance and direction for communications and strategy.
  4. Empathy must accompany facts– In this time, traditional techniques no longer work. Dealing with emotion, fear, uncertainty, hope and promise is as or more important than operating in facts.
  5. Nurturing new networks and alliances– Engaging with new people, groups and different values during a major crisis expands one’s aperture if not one’s confidence and knowledge.
  6. Codifying actions embellishes decisions – This is the time for a new playbook, so consciously documenting, reiterating and sharing what is being done creates a new paradigm.
  7. Communications tone, cadence and channel is mission critical – Getting this formula right is never more essential than now. Stakeholders are seeking consistency, clarity, reliability, access and realistic results.
  8. Freedom to face fear and fail This is a time to explore new things. To investigate,  incubate,  inform and try again if it doesn’t work. Difficult times demand courageous thinking.

It’s easier to talk about changing your routine and purposefully reimagine work than it is to actually do it. COVID-19 has unveiled a world of unforeseen consequences regarding our personal and professional lives. As leaders, it’s about creating a new playbook amid an unprecedented reality with the focus on stabilizing people’s lives.

We are all in this together so let’s stay safe and healthy!


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Jim Weiss
Jim Weiss

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