When “Business as Usual” No Longer Works

“When a paradigm shifts,” wrote Joel Barker, “everything goes back to zero”—individuals and organizations alike. Old ways of working, no matter how successful, have no bearing on the future, because the future demands entirely new ways of working. Yet many people fear the new. How can organizations help them embrace it?

The answer to this question may determine whether organizations thrive or fail in the next few years. The paradigm shift—from the industrial era to one of more “open access and choice,” from regional scope to global marketplace, from simplicity to complexity—is already upon us, requiring a move FROM “business as usual” TO “business as uncertainty.” Many paradigm shifts are having a major impact on organizations today:

  • FROM one-way, top-down communications TO “everyone is heard”
  • FROM top-down decision making TO collaborative decisions
  • FROM rigorous control of information TO open access to information
  • FROM a view of people as “hands and feet”—not thinking, only doing as they are told—TO an environment in which people are valued in their entirety and expected to bring value  

In too many workplaces, people feel comfortable with their routine and may see little reason to make the FROM-TO leap. “What we have been doing has worked up until now,” they reason. “If it isn’t broken, why fix it?” This outlook shows up at all levels of organizations: senior leadership, middle management, and front lines.

What will it take to inspire people to embrace the new ways of working?

It will take courageous leaders who see the need for change and are willing to collaborate with the people of the organization to make change happen. These leaders will need to provide opportunities for everyone to gain new mindsets, behaviors, and skills. Above all, the organization will need to reinvent its most basic building block: the ways in which people interact. The goal is articulated in the following elements from KJCG’s definition of inclusion:

 an environment in which all people feel respected, valued, and seen for who they are; an organization in which collaboration includes all the right people needed to address an issue or opportunity; a workplace in which people at all levels and across divisions give one another supportive energy to do their best work.

Such a transformation, effected through Inclusion as the HOWSM, can motivate people to give more of their energy and extend themselves further for the organization. As they bring this energy into their collaborations, new perspectives arise, knowledge and best practices pass through the organization more quickly, and people build on one another’s ideas. Decisions and solutions become far better than anything that individuals or teams could come up with by staying in their silos.

Best of all, people see the value of these new ways of working—and embrace them.

Transformed in this way, drawing the best from all people, the organization is in the best possible position to succeed in today’s challenging times.