People behave like icecubes
Recently we saw years of resistance to remote working melt away in an instant, when all at once everyone who was not categorized as “essential” agreed to work from home.
There was no blueprint for how this would work out, and yet everyone was on board for figuring it out together.
Some work in a distracting and stressful work environment, with little technical know-how and equipment, and yet very few have challenged this direction.
Everyone took it upon themselves to do their best in a virtual work environment, although this was and still is a difficult adjustment for many.
To change shape, we first need to melt
Why was this possible? Like an ice cube melts when you poor boiling water over it, people were ready to be shaped into a new form. And I’ll come back to that.
The shift we have seen here is not different from just any organisational change project, but as you likely have experienced first hand, most of them fail.
Unfreeze, Change, Refreeze
Seen through Kurt Lewin’s model of change (Unfreeze, Change, Refreeze), we are currently in a state of Unfreeze. Normally, Unfreeze is the hardest part of change. It’s where you have to convince everyone of the actual need to change. It’s where you encounter the buts and the silent resistance. If you don’t succeed here, nothing can change. Because it is only after melting a block of ice (Unfreeze), can you reshape it from a square to a triangle (Change) and then cool it down in the new shape (Refreeze).
This means, that first people need to understand that change needs to happen and be motivated to create it. Once the status quo of “This is how we do it here” is broken down, a new way of operating can be built, with everyone looking for ways to do things differently (Change) that will then be the new status quo (Refreeze).
Covid-19 is our hot water
For purpose driven leaders who have puzzled in the past of how to shift their organisation, the good news is that the Corona lockdowns had everyone unfreeze. Today’s amazing, and hopefully once-in-a-lifetime, leadership opportunity is that people are open, as the status quo of literally everything has been shaken up and as no one can, or is expected to be able to, predict the future.
This is the opportunity of the purpose driven leader
In times of uncertainty and volatility, we can still rely on our inner resources and our hopes and dreams. When you take a moment and tune into your personal values and the purpose your work serves: What is a future that you would like to create with your business? What is it that you need from your people to make that happen?
What’s the authentic message you have not yet dared to share with your stakeholders: your team, your customers, your suppliers, and your shareholders?