For many businesses, COVID-19 has meant scaling back their operations and navigating their way through the challenges as a matter of survival. For others however, COVID has represented a time for rapid expansion and adaption through an unanticipated demand in their product or service.
For many organisational leaders, the realisation that their existing toolkit did not include the skills to deal with the uncertainty of 2020 has left them feeling somewhat exposed.
There are many things that we can prepare for if we can anticipate them, however we can rarely anticipate the impact of an event such as the global pandemic.
Quintessential was approached by a technology organisation that was experiencing an escalating conflict between the leads of two well performing teams. Both teams were delivering high quality services through the various twists and turns of their business venture. However, it became noticeable over the course of 2020 that tension amongst the team leads had emerged, which created a flow-on disruptive impact on their respective team members. The cumulative effects of COVID had been that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and they were insightful enough to seek help.
A large part of the problem stemmed from their own inability to identify a root cause of the conflict. Both team leads were highly respected, qualified and experienced professionals, being highly skilled to lead teams. Goodwill was present, yet most roads to recovery led to an impasse.
The Quintessential Process
In situations of conflict there is always a temptation to find what is wrong. Yet the teams’ past performance was based on a solid foundation of cohesion that they had built over time, and a misplaced intervention could have potentially resulted in unintended consequences of undoing the good that had been established.
Therefore, Quintessential adopted an approach of ‘improving’ in preference to ‘fixing’. With COVID affecting many things about our client’s BAU practices, we leveraged the Cynefin framework to highlight ways in which they needed to do things differently – not because their existing practices were incorrect, but because they were simply unsuitable for the current challenges.
Our client realised that what they were doing was not wrong, it was just ineffective. At this point they saw that they were geared around doing things Cynefin ‘complicated’, and they need to approach things in a Cynefin ‘complex’ manner.