My clients are all crazy busy. There isn’t a single one who’s bored and wish they had more to do. They are trying to manage everything that is coming at them. Last week I scheduled an introductory meeting with a potential client. The time came and they didn’t show up. It turns out they thought it was on the next day because they got caught up in managing a bunch of issues. Rather than being an unusual day, this seems to be more the norm.
Like most people, this person noted it was crazy busy right now but it will calm down in a few months. I hear this story all the time. It’s ok, things are going to slow down and get back to normal. But what is normal?
What is the new normal?
Stepping back, it is not only our jobs that are being disrupted, whole industries are. I have clients who work in consumer goods, tech, healthcare and legal. Each of these industries is being radically disrupted. Online business is turning retail on its head. Healthcare is shifting to value based care. Legal services are shifting from billable hours to fixed cost. And tech has been disrupting itself for years. The new normal is rapid and disruptive change. What worked in the past isn’t going to be so relevant in the future. Businesses are constantly reinventing themselves.
We need to change how we lead and manage
So why am I stating the obvious? We all know the world around us is changing fast. The problem is we aren’t changing how we lead and manage it. Traditional leadership and management practice is based on stability. We figure out how the system works and then we focus on keeping it the same, eliminating variation. We rely on experts who know how it worked to solve our problems using their historical expertise. Relying on what worked in the past, doesn’t work. Not only that, it makes things worse. The more we try to control the complexity around us, the more instability and craziness we create. It feels like we are playing ‘Whack A Mole’ and we are doing it to ourselves.
It’s time for a new perspective. The craziness isn’t going to end. It is the new normal. It demands a new style of leadership called Adaptive Leadership. Adaptive Leaders recognize the goal is to learn as quickly as possible. The company that learns fastest wins.