Jill Thornton: “Remember to take some time out for yourself”

The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has presented individuals and organisations with an avalanche of threats demanding immediate changes to the way we work and our expectations of what the future holds.

What is perhaps surprising, given how difficult it was to get people to change in the days before the pandemic, to implement new ways of working, to radically challenge convention, is how quickly people have experimented and adapted during the pandemic.

Ideas that previously would have taken months if not years to get through the internal bureaucracy, have become common practice and business as usual within a matter of weeks. Homeworking, sophisticated use of Zoom technology, self-managed teams, are just some of the examples, that in my conversations with business leaders repeatedly come up as success stories.  

But what is also remarkable, is how attitudes towards the future have changed. Where before strategic thinking comprised an extrapolation of what had happened over the last couple of years, plus or minus a small variation to allow for the unexpected, we are now talking about scenario planning, experimentation, flexible execution loops and democratisation of innovation.

Effective experimentation depends on a clear sense of purpose, what are we trying to achieve, what does success look like; doing the right thing as opposed to doing the thing right

For many years senior executives and others have been urging their organisations to be more innovative, to take more risks, to be more agile, with little effect.

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