He is a wisp of a boy turning into a man…. a reddish barely visible beard on his chin, hair unkempt, a torn gray shirt.  He is sun burned, gaunt. Climbing slowly up the rigging he arrives. On top of the crow’s nest he looks out. He sees nothing.  Been out at sea since mid-March and nothing.

There is empty sea…grayish blue with white caps…his eyes squint against the sun’s glare……nothing.  Then……is it?….is that a dark line on the horizon…OMG could it be? “Land ho”, he screams!

Land finally is in sight.   We are opening as a business world….different speeds in different places and with different rules.  Direction is the same…. land ho!   Our world is again shifting from pandemic lock down to walking tentatively onto the new land called Opening Up…

What does the new land look like?  There is alot of fog and smoke…hard to see clearly…as we get closer silhouettes appear…

I am in conversation with business leaders and CEO’s from around the country.  I am actively engaged with numerous companies and leadership teams as they chart their course in these uncharted waters.   This is what I am hearing and seeing.

      • One of the dramatic and unique aspects regarding organizations and the pandemic is that many of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses that are currently present are not new.  The issues that compaies are dealing with are not new issues.  They do, however, appear differently and magnified like they are on steriods.

        For example, one company I am working with has a history of being focused and highly disciplined.  this strength has een incredibly powerful and useful in their dealing powerfully with the pandemic.  They are a uniform delivery company that has since March never missed a delivery.  Their plant is fully operational, and no one has gotten sick. 

        Another company, while they knew about work from home, never explored or instituted it.  Hitting a brick wall best describes what then ensued as they dealt with Stay at Home and being non-essential – pretty much a train wreck. 

        This organization now has virtual sales meetings which will become a permanent fixture.  These Zoom meeting save time avoiding traffic and give the Sales force more time to work with clients.  Their continuation is a no brainer.  This company that is a distributorship in dealing with the pandemic, has improved and become better, more effective and efficient. 

        Companies with low trust environments and cultures struggle in opening and having employees return.  In this type of organization there will be issues around being healthy and mask protocol.  There will be questions of who is telling the truth about their child care issues and taking care of parents.  In organizations that have higher trust environments there is greater dialogue, employee alignment and it is easier opening up.  The whole plan is generated with the front line and employee involvement.  Everyone engages and are straight about what they are dealing with.  A plan is generated that works for all.  Since March, the strengths and weaknesses that organizations are exemplifying are not new.  They are, however, now exaggerated and unavoidable in their having an impact.

      • The issue for organizations who have not been at the office is how exactly do we return?  The following questions arise:
          • Why is coming back a good thing?
          • How do we make our office and place of work Covid Safe for employees and all who enter?
          • Office, bathroom, hallway, mask protocol – how do we do it?
          • Temperature checks and surveys – how do they fit in and what are we going to do?
          • How are we spacing people in offices?  Do we need separators?
          • What about wiping things down?  Who does what when?

        Thie above concerns predominate. For some organizations, working from home and being offsite has really worked. There is a real minority that are reporting that distance and working from home makes communication and teamwork better. They are not rushing back. they are thinking about how big does their office really need to be and do they really need to return?

      • There are real conditions facing organizations.  As manufacturers open it can be difficult to find workers.  A company in Detroit cannot find manpower to run their tool and die operations.  Other manufacturers are offering bonus pay that they are calling “hero pay” so that workers return.  For office workers…how exactly is this elevator thing going to work?  If we all face the corners of the elevator it puts standing cheek to cheek in a whole new light. I am just saying.
      • A company in Ecuador has part stores in Quito.  People coming into the stores?…not so much though there is a real need and demand to get these parts.  How do we get customers who at best have phones on to and ordering from the website? Deliver by Uber motorcycle anyone?  This new abnormal is different and will present unique challenges.

      The ship puts down its anchor.  The shore is covered by fog.  There are some discernable features.  We find our redhaired hero in the bow of the rowboat.  It is being rowed by six of his forlorn shipmates. The boat heads for shore……this is the first land to be walked on in two and a half months.  The sand grates beneath the boat and our hero jumps out landing in the water, sand, and bubbling surf.  

      Our youth realizes something odd is occurring. The ocean is leaving the beach. Waves are flowing backwards to the sea. Then the beach begins to shake, there is roaring; the sounds are deafening.  Trees fall, rocks tumble…hard to clearly see.  The youth and crew freeze.……OMG …we arrive at the land of opening and are having a tidal wave and an earthquake!

      More to come…