If there are times when Business and the Human Side are in conflict, it is at times of crisis. Only when things are running smoothly do they tend to complement each other. People always try to find reassurance, by self-regulating psychologically and biologically. A very normal reaction. Business also tries to find reassurance by short or long-term return on its investments. In an ideal world, they entertain each other and coexist in a connection they both profit from.
And when everything ceases to be natural, the benefits of this symbiosis and delicate eco-friendly relationship disappear. But if there is little we can do about psycho-biological self-regulation, as it is too foundational, there is a lot we can do on the Business side. Today, management is to plan. That is what we are taught – to foresee scenarios, manage risks and have control mechanisms to deal with them.
But then Covid-19 emerged, and it has changed everything: biologically, economically and psychologically. The latter is less talked about but only because it cannot be quantified on a spreadsheet. But the invoice is in the post.
What now? What can be done? On the biological side, there are plenty of people providing advice. But what about the management?
Good news! This is not the traditional million-dollar question. We have to be brave enough to put aside all the current paradigms on how to manage and adopt what we call “Nano Management”.
In our models on Change Management, we should split our business into 3 boxes: CONTINUE - everything that is working and should be optimised; FINISH - everything that should be discontinued because it does not work; START - everything that does not exist yet but should be created or invented. Although various combinations of these variables are possible, Change Management should only occur when the FINISH and START boxes account for a larger slice than the CONTINUE box. But we are not at the Change Management stage yet. We are at the Crisis Management stage.
Nano Management means focusing on CONTINUE. Fight for short term results, based on best practices. Benefits? Bet on stability, create trust, invest in alignment, leverage commitment. What is our mission now as managers? We have to keep things moving, we cannot stop. Benefits?
“A good Nano Management style during crisis provides a medium to long term sustainability. Challenge? This has been against what we, as managers, are supposed to do by default.”
João Guedes Barbosa