Igniting momentum during COVID-19

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Make big bets

Where it goes wrong

  • Waiting until things settle down/you have total clarity on what the future will look like.
  • Treating your purpose primarily as a rallying cry.
  • Over-relying on data as a primary source of truth.

When it works

To beat The Great Depression, Proctor and Gamble bet big to become a media house. They invested in advertising and partnerships to not only thrive in a difficult climate, but become one of the largest consumer goods company in the world.


How to do it

Triangulate, don’t extrapolate

Whatever comes next the world won’t change in a straight line—so trends won’t help.

Instead it’s the response of consumers and companies that play in your markets that will define what the future looks like. So partner up with businesses that have an interest in your market (but aren’t competitors), get consumers in the room - and argue it out.

Your collective view of the future will be a strong basis for a point of view.

Do your purpose

A strong business purpose needs to be more than a generic expression of intent to be a better corporate citizen.

And in today’s context, more than ever businesses need to harness their purpose as a springboard for which big bets you should take. So if your purpose isn’t helping guide your thinking—then perhaps it is time to take another look and create something more meaningful.

And if it is—then without being glib—drive it into every action, use it to generate the big ideas that will move you forwards and set you apart. Just do it.

Think small

People bandy around the term ‘think big’ all the time. But sometimes a big bet comes not from expansive thinking, but laser-focussed thinking.

Step back from the full complexity of your business and ask yourself just one question - as the economy picks up again what from our portfolio of products/services will be - or could be - most relevant.

Place your bet there and invest big - and you could create a powerful slingshot for future success.

Bottle the culture

(Not the crisis)

Where it goes wrong

  • Assuming new behaviours will stick as the context continues to evolve. All historic evidence says behaviours that were previously in place will accelerate, but new behaviours will disappear—the elastic will snap back.
  • Leading teams to burnout by keeping them in crisis mode, driven by an over-simplistic dedication to sprints and the resulting adrenaline.
  • Allowing the business to slip back into busYness as usual without breaking and remaking deeply embedded systems and processes.

When it works


How to do it

Priority, not priorities

The French word for priority has no plural. Take a long hard look at how many priorities you focussed your business on through the crisis. Make that the number of priorities you focus on going forwards.

Yes it will be painful to cull so ruthlessly - but the prize will be the kind of pace and care and ingenuity you are seeing right now.

Rapid improvement, one team at a time

The crisis has set teams more demanding goals than ever before. Focused them on key moments and processes. And forced them to try out new ways of making things happen in those moments and processes.

To improve things at that sort of pace for evermore make sure you boil down what worked into a new model of what it is to be a team, a new operating rhythm, a new set of skills. And make sure every team learns it.

Short-circuit decision-making: forever

Layers of decision-making complexity are gone. Let‘s commit to throwing away our old meeting calendar and replacing it with one rigged for pace of decision-making. To bring the frontline into the room. To setting demanding goals.

And let’s promote people who have the courage to make decisions at pace (vs those who have the expertise to describe the problem).

Get ready to V-Lead

Where it goes wrong

  • Putting your head in the sand and postponing your important leadership initiatives until we are back together face-to-face.
  • Running virtual leadership events that are a carbon copy of its in-person counterpart, without designing for virtual.
  • Obsessing about the tech: will it work, do leaders know how to use it all, what’s the whizzy new platform your partner’s business is trialling?

When it works

We created the first of what is now BP’s annual virtual leadership conference. The blended, multi-format event took place over four days, getting 180 leaders ruthlessly committed to their comeback strategy. 99% of leaders left with a deeper understanding on their new strategy and 92% felt more able to engage and empower their teams with it.


How to do it

The 7 minute rule

Neuroscience says we can’t concentrate on the same screen for more than 7 minutes: so meticulously sweat the human experience and make sure you shift the energy and dynamic little and often. Why don’t you get people on their feet for a walk and talk? Or get people doing a v-energizer to mix up the mood?

Build ‘the bubble’

Think deeply about digital experience. Events live or die on team commitment – and that’s born from having a shared journey. It’s hard yes, but fully use the bubble around your attendees. Why not send them something in the post that they can all open at the same time to create a moment of connection?

More than a moment

The outcome is what happens after the event not during it. Stand in their shoes and map out the step by step journey leaders need to go on. What else is going on in BAU we need to factor in? How can we build anticipation? Where will the conversation live after the event?