What happens “Just Now”

A common phrase from growing up in South Africa is to refer to a time in the future as “JUST NOW”.  I will often say something to my staff such as “I will call that person just now”. A few minutes later the staff will ask “Have you called them yet?” 

The term “just now” in my vocabulary and driven by where I grew up means sometime in the future.  

As the world cycles through emerging from lockdown and retreating into lockdown its businesses are going to have to restart. That is a pretty obvious statement but has multitudes of meanings. Some will continue on the well worn path, and probably one doomed to failure. But the reality is, the new world will be very different to the old world.  

The new way of doing business in the post coronavirus world will be different, and businesses need to break out of lockdown and emerge better, stronger, more efficient, and more adept. When the pandemic was first declared, there was a lot of overuse of the words, pivot and unprecedented. It became almost a joke that every time you heard those words on TV, you would play a drinking game.  

The reality is that coronavirus has mitigated unprecedented change in the world. It has brought us to a point where things are different. Not necessarily better, but different.  

In this series of articles, I consider a few ways that you can look at your business and work out whether things in the new world for your business and your organization are going to be better, just different or more of the same.  

WHY ?  

“Start with why” as Simon Sinek famously said. What it is about the pandemic that has allowed many people individually and many organizations to really consider their why. To give some deep thought to why they exist, what is their purpose, what are their values?  

The sudden waves of introspection reminded me of the book by Bronnie Ware called “Regrets of the Dying”. In this book the author says “People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth.”  When faced with this pandemic, many people have begun to question their own mortality and re-define their why. Bronnie Ware interviewed many patients about their regrets and the most common answer was  

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Bronnie Ware “Regrets of the Dying”

On a business level there are several aspects of Why that need to be considered. The first is to check that the why of the leaders is truly reflected in the why of the organization. If there is misalignment then the organization cannot function, and the leadership cannot truly lead.  

All business leaders and managers need to spend time defining their personal why. If the personal why is fuzzy or not clearly defined then it is impossible convey the organizational why with conviction and sincerity.   

The second most common “Regret of the Dying” was 

I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.   

Bronnie Ware “Regrets of the Dying”

The simple solution was put forward by Mark Twain who said 

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” 

Mark Twain

If we followed the advice of Mark Twain, perhaps we would not have regrets. More importantly if we truly enjoy what we do it becomes easy to translate that why into a purpose that our teams can embraced.  

The second aspect of Why is take a broad view of the organizational why.  

I was recently, working with a company and I asked the directors to define their purpose or their why. They said that the purpose is to make money (profits).  

My response was that in a broad sense that is true for long term sustainability. However, I challenged them to consider how you translate that into something that the cleaner, who comes into your offices at night, or the person packing boxes in your store, really understands and buys into.  

For the last years I have been conducting research globally into the future of culture and the future of work. I have interviewed 87 companies in 25 countries so far. The resounding success factor that many companies display is that they have a purpose or a why. They have a purpose, that is greater than themselves. They have a purpose that binds all stakeholders in the organization together.  

Business WHY ?

The pandemic taught us about why and made many organizations look at the why and try and understand whether that one is still relevant. They are considering whether it is still relevant in a post coronavirus world (just now ?)  and whether the why still reflects the organization, the management team, the founders and more specifically team members.