If you hadn’t used online meeting tools before, you are now. If you’re not using a digital meeting platform that allows for video, reconsider your platform. Fostering connection among your team is vital. A team with strong relationships is more creative and productive. So, take the time to build and reinforce relationships in a virtual setting. Avoid diving directly into work at the outset of meetings. Instead, pause, breathe, and get curious with your team. Start your meetings strengthening relationships by asking generative questions that build connection and shared understanding. Give everyone time to answer, including yourself. You might ask:
How are you doing? Is everyone in your home healthy? (How can the team support you?)
What is a bright spot for you; something positive that has happened as a result of the current conditions/changes?
What strengths are you bringing to this challenge? And how might those strengths help us be an awesome virtual team?
What are you reinventing at home and what are you learning.
Then foster strategic conversations.
This is another opportunity to pause, breathe, and get curious with your team. Your team is working in an entirely new context, as are the customers/people you serve. Instead of trying to do what you’ve always done, getting frustrated because the system isn’t set up for it, take this opportunity to rethink what you do and how you do it. This is the perfect time for reinvention; in fact, it is a requirement. Have a conversation about your mission, vision, and values within this new context. Reflect on whether the purpose for your team, department, or organization has changed under the current circumstances.
Ask generative questions to get clear on a shared purpose, vision, mission:
Ultimately, what is our purpose? Has the current situation changed it in any way?
What outcome(s) are we striving for with our work together? What measurable results are we after?
What do our customers/clients/people we serve want and need from us now? Has it changed in any way?
Given our purpose and our desired results, what aspirations do we have for our work together as a virtual team?
Avoid jumping straight to solutions or conclusions about how to proceed. Allow the team to explore opportunities and identify possibilities first. Ignite the creative juices!
Imagine the Possibilities
Take time to challenge assumptions and question old processes and procedures. Imagine you were completely redesigning yourselves to serve your purpose and the larger mission. Engage your team in thinking through how you might capitalize on this new environment: What might actually help your team excel, be more effective or efficient, think creatively? Spark the creative genius of your team by asking generative questions that allow new opportunities and possibilities for achieving your goals to emerge:
Given the new parameters for our work, how might we go about delivering on our purpose?
What’s available now to help us achieve our mission?
What challenges must we meet to exceed our own and our customers/clients expectations?
How might we achieve our purpose in half the amount of time it took before Covid-19?
What opportunities do we have to transform how we achieve desired outcomes because workplace parameters have changed?
How might we engage our customers/the people we serve in helping us think through what they actually need from us? Have their parameters changed, given the current situation?
What can we streamline? What can we jettison? What truly matters here?
How might we best support one another in this new environment?
What training do we need in order to take advantage of these new possibilities and how can we scale rapidly?
Based upon the ideas that are generated, give your team permission to reinvent by trying some new things, even as they continue to do what must be done right now.
Engage your team in rapid prototyping of the most promising ideas: The ones that will give you the greatest return on your time and energy. The ones that promise to reinvent the way you do business. Engage in regular cycles of action learning to evolve your prototypes into new ways of achieving your mission. Include your customers in your learning cycles: “What works well for you? What suggestion do you have to help us improve?”
If your team is innovative enough, you’re likely to find the work gets done in much less time than normal. With that added time, offer your team opportunities for professional development, encouraging them to expand their capacity for reinvention.
Free and Discounted Professional Development
Literally everyone who offers training is taking their trainings online. Many are offering free workshops and discounted training to support people and small businesses at this time. For example, we are providing free webinars that support reinvention, resilience, and communication: e.g., helping teachers to reinvent connection with students and parents and healthcare professionals to reinvent care and connection while enhancing resilience, immunity, and positivity. All of these are being recorded and are/will be available for free on the Conversations Worth Having Youtube channel. Free online certifications and courses includes courses and degrees from Shaw Acedemy, Coursera, and Linkedin. These are just a few. Google free training in your field. You will be amazed at the gift economy that is emerging!
Lean In to Reinvention
You can take advantage of the present opportunity by developing your team’s reinvention skills—which includes asking generative questions. These skills will help you better respond to your current situation. At the same time, it builds capacity to respond to future global changes, such as the emergence of wide-spread artificial intelligence and robotics. No one knows all that is critically important during this pause in our economy. In a world defined by rapid and continuous change, however, we can be assured that learning to reinvent ourselves will be an asset.