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  • Susan Snedaker

Checking for Drift

In organizations of any size, we know drift happens in many different ways. From projects that start to morph while in progress to operational budgets that, like copies of copies, become a bit fuzzy over time to the use of space and more.

This time of COVID has caused organizations of every type to take a new look at how they operate. While the future is still uncertain with respect to the near- and long-term impacts of COVID on business, communities and individuals, one thing is certain. Nothing in business will likely ever be the same again. I suspect we'll look back and think of our world as "BC (before COVID) and AC (after COVID)."

While we may miss some of the old ways, there’s enormous opportunity to look with fresh eyes at a company and ask whether the structure still makes sense.

It reminds me of those endless home improvement shows on TV where the homeowners are dissatisfied with their current home because their family has grown – kitchen isn’t functional, one bathroom isn't working for them, there aren't enough bedrooms for the kids – you name it. Then in comes the designer and they magically re-envision the space. Fast forward 28 or 56 minutes (and countless commercials) and the space has been re-designed and revitalized to meet the family’s needs.

Business is not much different. We grow, we change, we add then delete...or add and never delete.

We are in constant movement, whether we’re expanding, shrinking, moving or changing. Like the family, we often stop at some point and look around us and say “How have we managed for so long? We need to do something!”

COVID has done that to us in many ways. Businesses have shifted in record time – from sit-down restaurants suddenly offering curbside pick up to hospitals suddenly providing virtual visits for patients when it was unsafe for visitors to enter the building. Everyone and every business has had to shift, quickly and often without sufficient forethought or planning. And yet, we have.

Not every business has survived and that’s a very harsh and tragic economic reality we’ll have to reckon with as a society for years to come. However, those that have found a new lane, a new way forward, still need to take a moment and check for drift.

The question shouldn’t be “What do we need to get rid of?” Instead, the question should be, “Do we have what we need to serve us well as we navigate the future?” The organization may need more or less of various things, but ultimately, it needs the right tools for the job ahead.

It is incumbent on leaders to ask:

- How does this structure serve us now?

- What changes would better enable us to serve our customers or patients or stakeholders more effectively?

- And, what do we need to continue to innovate and improve?

Now is a great time to re-assess the shape and size and scope and work of the organization and determine how to re-tool for success in this new world. There are no perfect answers, but those who take a shot at this re-assessment will make more meaningful progress in the months and years to come that those who do not.

It reminds me of the saying – you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Now's your time. Take your best shot at course correcting your organization's drift. Get ready for a better tomorrow, because it's coming.


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