For the past two years or so, we all have been operating in a strange work environment. Many of us have experienced trying to work full-time virtual, part-time in the office, and even full-time in the office. For each of us, it has been good, bad, or none of the above, as post-pandemic work styles range from virtual to in-person to hybrid to pick your own style, causing business leaders to hide or run for cover...or in some cases, listen carefully for new solutions.
What the heck is corporate anthropology?
People often ask us: "What do you do?" and "How do you do anthropology?" They are familiar (maybe) with anthropologists who work in small-scale societies in far away lands. My response: I tell them that companies or organizations in more complex societies are like those small-scale societies. We observe their interconnected networks, and the way people get their jobs done every day. They have many of the same dynamics as tribal or hunter-gatherer societies. They also have different ones which reflect how they have evolved into effective, or dysfunctional, organizations. Our job as corporate anthropologists is to help them "see, feel and think" in new ways to sustain their growth during these fast-changing times.
Like it or not, the future of remote work is upon us. All of us need to become more facile at communicating electronically and doing it wisely. In your own business, this might mean you need to prepare a new way of communicating. And, you can't wing it the way you might have done with in-person meetings. Agendas are necessary, and you need to understand new ways of engaging people virtually. But, there have always been meetings. So why the need to change now? Why are new tools even more important today than ever before?
As we have been working with our clients during this pandemic, we're noticing a recurring theme. They are unhappy about not knowing what comes next. They've figured out how to deal with living at home, working at home and being at home. But now they're beginning to be uncomfortable and anxious about what's coming next. It's strange, isn't it, that without a clear vision of the future, it's often impossible to live today. I've recently recorded a podcast talking about this, which you can listen to here.
Martin Seligman's work on homo prospectus tells us a lot about how we need to see the future clearly if we're going to leave today...even if the future is an imagined one, because that's the way our brains work. Now the challenge is how to do our work when we're uncertain about what's going to be the new normal. What's more, we're not sure it's coming back to what it was. And we're not sure what it's going to be next.
During this crisis period filled with uncertainty and disruption, you might pause, step back and turn lemons into lemonade. There probably isn’t much else you can do. If we at SAMC could help you now, it would be to urge you to take some time to use Innovation Games® to bring those big, new ideas to the forefront of your thinking about yourself, your business and your future. In fact, Andy and I recently did an On The Brink podcast about how Innovation Games are a very effective way to not only help you look into the future and rethink where your organization is going, but also figure out how to get there. You can listen to it here.
We often tell our clients that if they need to reignite their business or change their market strategy or create a new business model, they should have a crisis or create one. Well, with the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, the crisis is here, and change is all around us. So what can you do individually and as a business to adapt?
First, don’t panic. Don’t be the proverbial deer in headlights. By being willing to change in big ways and small, you are doing something good to help others and protect yourself. It is ok.
Next, how do you help your folks respond so they too know it is ok? This is a time for exceptional, emotionally intelligent leadership. Keep it simple. You need to lead so others trust your judgments and want to follow you. No one knows exactly what to do right now, so it is a time to learn how to deal with an unknown crisis together.
Maybe it is time to change “Change Management”
In today's highly competitive, technologically disrupted business environment, one thing that’s a constant across all industries is change. It cannot be ignored—it must be embraced. But how? How do you change when our brains hate it? And, while change is all around us, few of us really know how to change, i.e., how to adopt new ways of doing things. We're much more comfortable with the way we've always done things in the past. So why change?
Because we must. The times demand it. Even though change is pain, we really need to learn the methods and strategies for bringing about real, transformative change, and then apply them. And fast.
Is meaningful and lasting change possible?
Yes. But, it takes genuine buy-in from the executive leadership and a strong understanding of the current vs. desired corporate culture. If these fall into place, culture change can indeed not only happen but revolutionize a company.
To understand how you too can do this, read our white paper which contains a step-by-step slide show explaining the necessary steps an organization must take to bring about real change. In this way, you and your business can overcome today's challenges and boldly embrace the future.
To download our white paper, "Everything is Changing but Change Management. Why Is It Not Working?," click below.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them." John F. Kennedy
This time of year is when we at SAMC reflect on the past and prepare for the future. It is also a time to express our appreciation and gratitude for successes, as well as what we have tried and may not have achieved.
Reflecting on gratitude and expressing it is as essential to people's personal lives as it is to their businesses and careers. In fact, those who focus on expressing their gratitude tell us that it repays them in spades. So why don't we all do it?
Gratitude: what does that really mean?
While the terms gratitude and appreciation may seem interchangeable, there are actually some subtle differences. While appreciation is a way of recognizing a job well done, gratitude is more personal. It expresses thanks for a benefit one has received.
As we work with companies and not-for-profits, we often find that people seem to have a hard time saying a simple "thank you" to someone. We're not talking about an award or special recognition for completing a task, just a simple "Hey, thanks for doing that so well. I truly appreciate it."
It's rare to hear business leaders say how grateful they are for their team, their clients or their successful company. Why is this?
There's one exception: a long-term client of ours whom we just adore, in large part because they are always expressing their gratitude to us (their consultants), their staff and their clients. As we receive their thanks and hear the same from their staff, we believe that their success is mainly due to this feeling of and consistent expression of gratitude.
Today's blog is about this gift of gratitude: what is it, why you and your company should embrace it, and how it will make you and those around you smile and shine. Most of all, it is about how to build an organizational culture that goes beyond the functional things that have to be done and creates an entirely new perspective on the people getting it done. Along the way, it also shines a light on how company culture really matters.
Why should we worry about appreciating others and expressing our gratefulness or gratitude?
Guns on display at the Dick's Sporting Goods store in Danvers, Mass., on Wednesday. (C.J. Gunther/EPA/Shutterstock, courtesy of The Los Angeles Times)
Here we go again. There's a school shooting, then a lot of tears and hand-wringing, then nothing happens.
But wait, maybe, just maybe, this time is different.
I'm of course referring to the recent mass shooting in Parkland, FL that killed 17 people, including 14 students, a geography teacher, an assistant football coach and the school's athletic director. In response, three major U.S. retailers—Walmart (one of America's largest firearm retailers), Dick's Sporting Goods and Kroger—have "voluntarily restricted gun sales to make a policy statement and manage their image with consumers," reports The Los Angeles Times.
According to the article, these retailers "are responding to the national uproar that followed the shooting...especially the feverish debate on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. They are not waiting for legislative action to improve matters."
A terrific Vistage International colleague of mine, Elisa Spain, published this insightful and very timely blog about the best way to respond to disruptive change. (Hint: it's not to run and hide.) I re-post it below but you can also read it here.
Vistage economist, Alan Beaulieu, CEO of ITR, issued a simple warning in recent days: “It’s been a good year, but there is a change coming,” he said. “Things are going to slow down.”
For those of us who follow ITR, we know the recession Beaulieu expects next year is one that he’s been forecasting for some time. To be clear, he is forecasting a normal cyclical downturn, not a deep recession.
Beaulieu expects the modestly improving economic climate will continue until February, but, he expects the U.S. industrial production index to peak in the second month of 2018. When that happens, look for things to taper off the rest of the year before turning more sharply downward in 2019.
And, here is Beulieu’s most important message, “When the downturn happens, smart company executives will use the slowdown to invest in your business, from equipment to ERP systems, from talent to technology.”