The Possibility Virus

We are the most creative, resourceful, inventive form of life yet seen on the planet of which we are part. It is what has got us into this mess, and what will get us out of it.

I have to confess to becoming quite frustrated by the constant stream of helplessness being unleashed by many sources in the media, and the attitude of businesses that have made billions for shareholders in recent years as they display various forms of learned helplessness.

a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed. It is thought to be one of the underlying causes of depression.

Psychiatry

Whether it manifests as businesses whose future relies on continuing the damage they cause, or talented, unique individuals waiting to be rescued by one initiative or another, it underestimates us.

Of course it’s tough. On many counts. The old system that got us to here no longer works effectively except for a very few, who have already garnered more from it that they can reasonably use. We do not yet have any idea what the future will look like. Old data is of limited use and the future hasn’t arrived yet.

We are in a place between.

Every major change takes a similar form.

There is a place we are leaving to which we cannot return, Departure.

A time of reflection, insight, fear, and transformation. Liminal space, A place between.

And a point where we take our experience before, what we have learned, and emerge into a place where we integrate it with what we need to do now. Integration

Right now, we are in the place between.

Can’t go round it, can’t go under it, can’t go over it, got to go through it.

Playschool

We are at a point where we discover the real difference between resilience – an ability to get back to some form of where we were, and anti fragility – the ability to harness what’s going on and grow from it. Personally, as a Society and as a Species.

Money is only a tool, a servant. We have maybe forgotten that.

We need to think differently.

Risk is the wrong measure

For all of our lifetimes we have been operating in a system we thought was the way things are, rather than what it has been, a moment in time.

We have made a fetish of assuming it would continue by turning risk management and efficiency into mantras. Risk as a function of probability and impact, and efficiency as leaving nothing in reserve in pursuit of short term gain.

We have known about the possibility, indeed the inevitability of a pandemic, but have chosen to choose it wouldn’t happen on ourwatch. Oops.

We now have to invert thinking from risk to possibility. Same formula, different mindset.

There is a well known framework created by Dave Snowden in 1999, at the beginning of “VUCA”, that I keep on my wall

Cynefin Framework, Dave Snowden

It is similar to a much older framework – The Maori idea of turangawaewae, meaning a place to stand.

In a place between, we are in the chaos space. Our approach has to be to cling to our sense of meaning, our own individual purpose as our compass, try things and adapt. Darwinian evolution at its best. The survival not of the most fit (for the old place) but of the most adaptable to fit into the new place, wherever that is.

Agility, not as a model for consultants, but as individual practice, for real.

Release the Human

Nietzsche tols a story about a Master and his Servant, and how over time the servant subverted the master thinking he could do a better job. It didn’t end well.

We have been going down the same path, believing that systems, AI, processes would make us more efficient in an economy somehow frozen in time. There is of course, no process, no AI that will sort out where we are now. Covid is a symptom as well as a problem. We have created an economy where other symtoms are available, and waiting their turn.

This is a time for humans. For those unique qualities we have. For our ability to work together.

Together

“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far go together”

African Proverb

This is a well known, and well worn saying. That doesn’t stop it feeling true.

Now is the time to choose who you’re together with. Not as a herd to shelter in the middle of, but as a small group (rule of thumb – five as a leadership group, no more than 150 in total) to do something meaningful.

Look at your LinkedIn Group, and ask yourself how many of them you have had a dialogue with in the last three months and what the relationship is. Are you hanging on them, are they hanging on to you, or are you doing something together?

This is a precious moment, where none of us know. That gives us the opportunity to entertain the possibility of doing something new.

For the short time we are here, we are here for a reason.

What’s yours? The possibilities are many.

Move.

Published by Richard H Merrick

Complexity and volatility create enormous opportunities for those willing to go beyond the boundaries of "business as usual" to explore the edges of their business. I am an entrepreneur, a coach, a creative thinker, and above all, an explorer of possibility.

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