We don’t know, what we don’t know

This is not a blog about Coronavirus. But about the notion of Coronavirus.

These are strange days. For most people. For most industries. It seems like the virus is impacting everything we do; whether the context is personal or professional.

It becomes increasingly apparent, that there is a direct correlation between technological, sociological and economical sophistication on one side, and vulnerability on the other. A vulnerability that will most likely not decrease in the future, with ever more intricate global interdependencies.

The question is; how do we navigate this increasingly complex environment? Because this unpredictability of our operational environment may be the new normal?

Think about it: Two months ago, very few people saw that we were heading towards this iceberg. And with that in mind, how do you forecast where we will be two months from now?

We are moving from a reality, where we have operated based on known unknowns, to a reality where we increasingly face unknown unknowns. We have moved from a complicated operational environment, to a complex one. And there is a huge difference in how we manage these two situations. 

At Liseberg, we are navigating on an hour-by-hour, day-by-day basis. And our management team are faced with hundreds of dilemmas: When do we open? How do we handle costs? What can we do to prevent letting people go? What measures should be in place when we re-open? How do we organize ourselves? And how do we work as a team?

Because in dealing with complexity, this teamwork is key.

In my opinion, when addressing unpredictability, the days of robust and structured – but also rigid and slow – management systems are over. All problems are not created equal. Instead, in complexity, speed and flexibility will be crucial.

We as leaders need to focus on possibilities, rather than probabilities. And while it is important to set out a direction in navigating this increasingly complex world, it is also crucial to understand that this direction is a broad, multi-lane highway, where we will have to change lanes, speed up, slow down … and sometimes also turn-around, and drive against the direction of traffic.

We need to create a culture, where trial-and-error is the rule, rather than the exception. We need love our mistakes. We need to work with constant feedback loops. We need to be outward-facing and listening.

And in all this, we need to work as a team. Because it will be people navigating this increasingly complex reality, not the lumbering systems or linear processes of yesteryear.


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