Fluid Thinking: Business Adaptability to ChangeBy Federico Cerdas | Mon, 12/21/2020 - 09:00
COVID-19 took everyone by surprise, at every level, from economic to social, around the world. Prior to 2020, we all had a schedule that had to be completed in a timely manner and in due form, paired with a certain daily life rhythm and with no changes; all, or most, of the predictable events were taken into consideration. And yet, on March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19, a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a global pandemic.
With that, an economic decline triggered by global confinement and by a situation that had never before been seen by any of the living generations on the planet began. The last recorded pandemic had been caused by the Spanish Flu in 1918 but, even while we had that as a precedent, the 21st century just froze.
Today, a little less than a year since the WHO’s global statement, various countries are testing a vaccine. In only 10 months, scientists have been able to break this virus apart and examine it, evidencing human being’s ability to expand and duplicate knowledge that, for years, has increased at breakneck speed.
The so-called Knowledge Doubling Curve Theory created by Richard Buckminster Fuller, a US architect, inventor and writer, states that in the year 1900, humanity duplicated its
knowledge every 100 years, in 1945, every 25 years, and in 1975, it was every 12 years.
Even so, today, and as result of the increase in technological use, this duplication is made every two years, according to Pedro Echenique, a condensed matter physics professor at the Universidad del País Vasco and recipient of the Príncipe de Asturias Award in 1998.
That is a fact that, as a society, presents us with an extremely positive scenario, not only regarding the sanitary crisis but also in all economic and professional aspects, because it gives us the opportunity to evolve as human beings and to adapt to the new everyday-life requirements.
But how many of us will be able to go out, overcome and continue with what will become the new world order? This is the most important question of 2020 since only those of us who are able to understand this new way of life, those of us who manage to be flexible enough to adapt, will carry on.
A flexibility that, as individuals, allows us to observe different aspects and possibilities based on different circumstances. This premise leads me, as an entrepreneur, to refer to “liquid thinking,” a concept that, according to Damian Hughes, author of the book with the same name, is the ability to adopt different perspectives, which, in turn, allows us to reach goals and be successful in any personal, academic or professional context.
It is worth noting that this concept arises in opposition to what writer Edward de Bono calls “solid thinking,” which is the inability to see situations from other standpoints which, basically implies staying within a limited and closed mentality when faced with alternative options.
Hughes expresses that throughout the world, three kinds of people exist: the kind who make things happen, the kind who observe what has happened and the kind who ask, “what happened?” The question here is: as a businessperson, which one are you?
On a personal level, it is this liquid thinking and making things happen that have fueled my career, both professional and entrepreneurial; observing, analyzing, proposing, facing problems, taking action and leaving my comfort zone are what have allowed me and my work team, and every person who collaborates with me, to continue despite adversity.
Being at the forefront of a company is not easy. Anyone can be a boss but to be a leader one needs to grow and develop alongside every person in the organization; that very same communication between all work levels is what creates the bases for a successful work relationship.
The above, added to the creation of a flexible strategy that adapts to different circumstances, to the creation of teams based on competence, new trends and relying on the ability to be resilient, is the perfect mix for business in the 21st century.
During this time where reality is constantly changing, traditional leadership models attributed to a single person are not enough to respond to current needs, which is why it is of utmost importance to restructure those models so they match our present reality.
According to various scholars from the Universidad de Chile, the above results in the construction of a mixed leadership, distributed among people who exercise it jointly and
severally, rephrasing a new social space in the company based on organizational transdisciplinarity, which grants everyone at the company the tools to face and deal with their surroundings.
TEAMS BASED ON COMPETENCE
Each of the items (strategy, teams and trends) could not exist without the other, given that, as mentioned before, the creation of a new space, arising from a mixed leadership, has been possible thanks to the problem-solving strategies provided by different fields that, as allies, constitute and create the existing current knowledge.
Having understood this, as a businessman, it is vital to create a work team that helps in building this business vision, aligned with one same goal and, most importantly, whose members have that same ability to adapt.
Their talents and passions, together, will lead the team to create and carry out the strategy. At this point in the journey, names, surnames or even schools from which someone graduates don’t matter anymore. If the person has talent, passion and vision for what they do then they are the suitable person.
CREATION OF NEW TRENDS
Once the internal work base is structured, it is necessary to analyze and get to know the clients, as well as their preferences, better. In a world where communication is instantaneous, social behavior changes in a matter of seconds, which is why we must always be up to date on our target market.
Having the ability to overcome failure is what will make the difference, both on a personal level as well as in business. It implies taking advantage of the situation and considering crisis as an option for growth that will, in turn, grant us the opportunity to act, overcome and adapt to a new reality.
Resilience must be a characteristic pertaining to each of our collaborators; however, it is an ability that can be boosted through internal policies that encourage cooperation, effort, acknowledgement and learning within companies.
According to Dean Robb, author of Building Resilient Organizations, resilient companies are characterized by “the ability to create and dissolve structures, provide security amid change and manage the emotional consequences of the same, as well as to learn to develop and grow when faced with difficult situations.”
So, remember, to be and to have a successful company, it is paramount to have a strategy that can adapt to change; teams who work under the same line and with the same short-, medium-, and long-term goals, innovate and listen to your client, and, finally, have the ability to overcome failure.