I spent a morning this week on a livestreamed event with Push Mind and Body, and a collection of speakers on psychology, workplace culture, and behaviour. One of those speakers was Dr Hazel Harrison, psychologist, TV presenter and writer. Hazel used Virginia Satir’s Change Process Model to discuss where our organisations are at right now in terms of the adaptation to COVID and the world beyond.
The model, originally developed for family therapy, has long been used to help people adjust to organisational change. But I think it also says something about the position of our organisations right now. This is my COVID-adapted version:
Right now, I think most organisations are in the chaos phase, still reeling from the impact of COVID. They rapidly overcame the technical challenges of moving staff to remote working, or furloughing large swathes of the workforce. But all of the less obvious elements of this are now coming to the fore – like the cultural issues of remote work. The longer lockdown extends, the less the ‘new normal’ will look like the old status quo. And the more leaders realise they will have to take radical action. We’re approaching the point where leaders have to settle on a transforming idea, and a vision of the future, and act to make it real.
Seeing the future
In the second of my livestreams this week, I spoke to a few hundred business leaders as part of a seminar series about COVID and beyond, alongside my client Freeths. We looked briefly at what the future might look like for retail, commercial property, and hospitality, using the tools of futurism. If ever the time felt right for more companies to adopt futurist practices as part of their day-to-day management activities, it is now. The ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of this formed a large part of my conversation recently with fellow futurist, Trond Undheim, for his podcast ‘Futurized‘.
What my crude sketch of Virginia Satir’s model doesn’t show is the variation. The reason the line is so wide – and wider during the chaos phase – is that these things never follow a smooth path. It is two steps forward and one step (or more) back. It is, in the original, a constant wave – one you might even describe as high frequency. The new normal is not going to be a return to stability. It is going to be a new period of high frequency change. Whatever visions we have of the future, whatever plans we put in place now, the overriding aim has to be to construct adaptability. To rebuild our organisations in resilient fashion, replete with the tools of foresight, accelerated decision making, distributed power and flexible shape that I discuss in Future-proof Your Business.