The Extinction of Business as Usual

DECEMBER 1 / Donna Kennedy-Glans

FOR MANY REASONS, several of which were accelerated by COVID-19, we’ve reached a turning point—the extinction of business as usual. Change is inevitable. Simply striving to maintain the status quo is causing harm to many organizations. Continuing to tread water in a tsunami of change is not recommended!

Your enterprise has an important choice to make. If business as usual isn’t working for your organization, what approach to building and rebuilding is needed? Is this the right time for you to pursue:  

  1. Transformational moon shots;

  2. Energizing revitalization; or

  3. Play-it-safer incremental change?  

To reimagine the way forward for your enterprise and implement change, your team will need the requisite skills and organizational culture. Moon shots, for example, require imagination, inspiration, and unwavering dedication to the aim. And even with the best intentions, some moon shots won’t land. For example, when Amazon partners with The Nature Conservancy, as part of its plan to be net-zero carbon by 2040, and invests millions to restore and conserve forests in the Appalachians or in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest, does this “moon shot” sound like an authentic commitment or green-washing?

A Deliberate Plan

WHATEVER YOU DECIDE—moon shot, revitalization or incremental change—your enterprise will need a deliberate and proactive plan. You don’t need to get things perfect, but you do need to be intentional and get moving.

The best place to begin redesigning is the ground on which you are standing. There has been considerable upheaval of the status quo. You may need to get your bearings. Start with your organization’s identity. At its core, your enterprise needs an unwavering sense of purpose (know the reason it exists) and clear values.

Many management teams are plagued by the presumption of uniqueness, thinking that the problems they face are unique to their enterprise or sector and that therefore solutions can be prescribed only by insiders. Yet there is a lot of upside in reaching out more widely for fresh thinking.

How can you do that? Every organization has some understanding of key “stakeholders” (an over-used and sloppy term). If your enterprise wants to "up the game", reach out beyond your organization to like-minded and open-minded stakeholders, perhaps to partners, to local communities, and to others in your supply chain. And to get ahead of issues and build durable consensus on ways forward, you may even choose to engage with stakeholders who are critical of your enterprise’s work or even cynical.

There isn’t a right or wrong way of seeing the world, but when you are rebuilding your enterprise, it’s useful, at minimum, to understand how others see an issue (including those who see it differently than you do) and to consider how reaching out to these alternate viewpoints might aid your enterprise’s path forward.

Chapter 2: Go For the Moon Shot, Teaching the Dinosaur to Dance: Moving beyond Business as Usual