Importance of the New

Like all of us, the Laing Russell team has had many new consulting experiences in recent weeks and months. Our own learning from these new experience has prompted us to reflect on the very significant value of proactively seeking out the ‘new’, the ‘the road less travelled’ to encourage development and change. The challenge of needing to do things differently has been a very positive experience, even though at times it was uncomfortable.

The way we work has had to shift significantly during our time with this pandemic. Perhaps, like many we have a significant, natural bias towards working in ways that we are practiced and comfortable handling. Given the strategic focus and outcomes of our work, we depend critically on a senior executive team being confident and committed to a path. Delivery of that clarity and commitment has always required a team working together in sessions, lasting a few hours or a couple of days.

Classic recent challenges have been how to make that process work in this new context. Both in terms of designing and delivering workshops over a video-conferencing service or when we are all working hard to stay 2m apart in a room and manage our masks.

It’s been hard and at times frustrating. Methods, behaviours and tools that have worked in the traditional context sometimes don’t work so well in this new context either ‘on-line’ or in person. In some ways the most important thing is that we have been challenged to find new ways, forced to re-evaluate and forced back to first principles about what we are trying to achieve with our client.

Three tactical insights from recent weeks and months working in this pandemic context are:

  • up significantly the quality and amount of preparation you allow yourselves, winging it on the foundation of your many years of experience will not deliver what you want for these key meetings;
  • keep it even simpler than you may have done in the past, particularly when guiding a client senior exec team through a significant on-line session – shorter, more tightly focused discussion, taking a debate in micro-stages makes it easier to manage, easier to build steadily towards agreement and commitment to a plan of action;
  • mix it up and keep everyone active, building on established axioms of needing address different parts of our brains, designing and managing the detailed micro-stages of variety and importantly ensures everyone is active on their keyboard inputting ideas, answering poll questions etc..

We’d value your perspective on what you are finding works well in practice.

And to return to our initial, more abstract insight. We know that constraints prompt innovation, we know that it is new experiences that inform the classic learning cycle. We encourage you to take that step further and push yourself to seek out new opportunities to try new things.