These are no longer "unprecedented times"

by @edent | , | 1 comment | Read ~192 times.

It has been a full calendar year since my office sent me home for the last time. A few weeks later, lockdown was announced.

For years, the biggest lie from customer service call centres was "Your call is important to us!"

Then, a few years ago, it became "Due to unusually high call volumes, it may take longer than usual to answer your call."

Now, it is "Due to the unprecedented situation, please bear with us while we try to answer your call."

Well, no. It has been a year. I totally get that the first few months of trying to get people working from home successfully were a chore. And lots of your staff may be off sick. But if you haven't managed to adapt by now, then I don't know what hope there is for your organisation in the future.

The only certainty is change. The next thing to disrupt you might be a pandemic, or a meteor hit, or something commonplace like a flood or fire.

About 8 years ago, I helped my office prepare for a "Disaster Day" - like an unannounced fire-drill. We ran an exercise where at 6AM one morning, we declared an on-site emergency and shut the office. How many staff members turned up for work because the information hadn't been cascaded to them? How much work wasn't able to be done because a crucial file was left on a desk? Which teams were unable to spend a day on a VPN?

The conclusions were dispiriting. Some teams thrived - others were unable to do a day's work without access to post-it notes. It highlighted where the problems were and suggested some solutions.

Anecdotally, that company did better than some of its competitors during the early stages of the pandemic. The disruption was prepared for.

But it is hard. It is so hard. We're all living with unimaginable pain and sadness. But through adversity to the stars. We have to get used to constant turmoil. The book Antifragile makes a compelling case that the only companies which survive are those which are strengthened from volatility.

It has been a year. Things are going to get better - but that should just give us more time to prepare for the next disruption.

One thought on “These are no longer "unprecedented times"

  1. Very much this.

    I had a DM autoreply from a white-goods company this week "Due to COVID-19, we are experiencing higher than usual volumes which may lead to a delay in our response to you."

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