Denise Kohnke

CEO Influenza?


Have you had your shot of resiliency yet?

If our CEO survey is any indication, the “can-do” spirit is still alive and well. As cultural Venn diagrams representing now and the near future collide – COVID, FLU, ELECTION, BLM – resiliency seems to be many CEO’s medicine du jour.

But what if there’s a better drug than simply being able to recover quickly and go back to the same shape, which is the definition of resiliency. What if evolution to something stronger and better was the outcome of these mega-influences on business and culture?

Which takes us to the difference between resiliency and strategy. While resiliency helps you get back to normal, what if normal no longer exists as we remember it from way back in 2019? Strategy is the art of informing action with calculated risk based on the ability to predict the future. For instance, lots of people predicted the pandemic. The flu is expected to be severe this year. The election always causes turmoil. And the Black Lives Matter movement was necessary, and a long time coming. All of these influences will ramp up to change our collective normal permanently. If you look long enough at the horizon from here, you begin to see the pathways of invention that will define the new collective normal and future business success.

Resiliency, to be sure, is necessary to ride the storms of change that are impacting business right now. Resiliency is comforting. Beyond all the existential threats, practical internal storms, such as loss of income, disruption of supply chains, evolving customer decision journeys, flexibility as employees basic needs change, are also unsettling.  Now, more than ever, is the time to ask, “Is there a better way?” because most CEOs are not currently the way they were, and not many want to stay the way they are.

As we look at this flu-like season of change, those of us at Merit encourage everyone to metaphorically bend, but not break. Wear a mask and get vaccinated so you avoid immediate debilitating illness. And then, think about evolving to whatever it takes to be well, regardless of the Venn diagrams looming in the future.

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