People + Strategy Journal

Winter 2021

From the Guest Editors

Circumstances that are unpredictable and uncertain trigger less-than-desirable human responses. Traditional planning and analysis must be coupled with evolving, thoughtful and resilient leadership at all levels.

By Jeanette Gorgas and Shawn Layden

​The Gift of Creating a New Future

The 20th century lasted longer than our calendars indicated. For most of the past two decades, organizations continued to use their industrial strategic planning, forecasting and analytical tools of the prior era. The 21st century began in earnest in February 2020.

Nearly everything has changed, necessarily, but not all change is bad. Change brings the opportunity to reimagine and redesign. 

Circumstances that are unpredictable and uncertain trigger less-than-desirable human responses, including bias and cognitive avoidance (or willful blindness). In the face of goal setting, prediction, strategic planning and operationalizing an organization’s commitments to its people and markets, traditional planning and analysis must be coupled with evolving, thoughtful and resilient leadership at all levels.

“Design is what connects dreaming to planning.” This is how one of our contributors has framed the challenge of leading through the unknown to the new future. Design for outcomes that best reflect your dream for your business, or life, which the former status quo did not readily allow. Take this opportunity to abandon practices or precepts that you felt held your organization back, while also recognizing that you will have to factor in the new ways of work that we have all come to accept. 

While we hope to emerge soon from house arrest, video call fatigue, and a time where many days feel like “blurs-day,” many of us will not return to two-hour commutes five days a week and the road warrior lifestyle we previously endured. Perhaps work/life balance will be something we actually achieve.

The new order of things has caused us to reflect and be more deliberative. To focus on the depth of our interests and relationships, not just the volume or velocity of our meetings. In our businesses, and in our community, are we not reappraising the value of cooperation over competition? Allies rather than adversaries? Do we not agree that in order for any one of us to come through well from this time of crisis, we must work together to help each other emerge safely? As a business leader, these renewed outlooks on life and society must be integral to your vision for your future.

This issue of People + Strategy brings together a diverse chorus of voices to discuss the challenges presented by these unprecedented times, and the types of leaders and strategies that will help us to navigate through them. 

As we look to the year ahead, we must realize that 2021 is going to look a lot like 2020 for many of us. As daunting as that may sound, we have to accept that a return to the world of 2019 is not on offer. Our past is sealed in amber now: it can be examined, discussed and better understood, but it cannot be returned to.
 
When we do finally come out of this pandemic, we should embrace what will perhaps be seen as the real dawn of the 21st century. The decisions you make, the changes you champion and the new paradigm you create to balance work, life and community will inspire a generation. This may be the “gift” we have received amongst all the chaos, strife and heartbreak. Embrace it.  

Jeanette Gorgas
Board Director and Chief Strategy, Operations and Human Capital Executive

Shawn Layden
Former Chairman, PlayStation Worldwide Studios