March 30, 2020

Lead by Reinventing Through COVID-19

by Joseph Cook

Losing the Queen: An Opportunity to Reinvent

In the game of chess, the queen is commonly seen as the most valuable piece on the board because of how much of a resource it is for each player. 

The queen can move as far in any straight or diagonal direction as you want it to according to your strategy, but one strategy is common for almost every player: keep the queen alive. 

No player ever wants or plans to lose their queen, but when they do, because sometimes they will, an opportunity rises to the surface.


The difference between a loss being seen as (1) a paralyzing crisis or (2) a minor obstacle to overcome lies in
the leader’s ability to reinvent his or her strategy.

Facing Our Current Reality Amidst COVID-19

At WinShape Teams, we exist to build strong, healthy, and fulfilling teams that change the world around them. We typically do this by holding experiential, face-to-face Retreats and Summits with teams and leaders that lead to transformation. 

With the current crisis of COVID-19 sweeping the globe, our queen has been captured, so to speak, and we have to pursue other options moving forward.

One option is to sit and wait until we hopefully get our queen back, but with our adventurous spirit, this is an unlikely choice. Another option is to reinvent our strategy for how we can help build strong, healthy, and fulfilled teams for the current season. 

There are many ways to reinvent, so we will focus on three areas which are listed below.

3 Areas of Reinvention


01 Reinvention of Self

02 Reinvention of Systems and Processes

03 Reinvention of Structure

Areas of Possible Reinvention: Self, Systems, and Structure

Regardless of what kind of crisis you are experiencing, a reinvented approach will be necessary, and the scale of that reinvention may be dictated by the severity or timeline of each specific crisis. 

At WinShape Teams, we’re having to reinvent in three areas: self, systems and processes, and structure.

01

Reinvention of Self 

As one who finds comfort in an open office space, I typically use collaboration with others as a tool to spur thoughts that help shape my perspective. 

However, during this time of encouraged social distancing and self-isolation, that tool has taken a new form, and I am having to reinvent how I collaborate with others; this is a reinvention of self. 

This requires learning new software and being intentional about how I use that software to stay connected with my team.

02

Reinvention of Systems and Processes

Speaking of my team, we have changed some of our connection processes to make sure each member feels cared for and connected to the mission; this represents a reinvention of one of our systems and processes. 

Instead of a weekly team meeting, we have established a new process of meeting briefly each morning to share updates, ideas, and progress related to our work and personal lives. Our director also sends out an e-mail at the end of each day providing any updated information and giving encouragement to our team while we are apart.

In addition, we are finding new ways to build strong, healthy, and fulfilling teams by creating more digital content and resources that can encourage and equip teams and leaders. This includes the new addition of 1:1 coaching opportunities for clients that can be done over the phone or through a computer screen.

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03

Reinvention of Structure

Based on the current timeline, there has not been a need to heavily reinvent our organizational structure outside of working remotely. 

The biggest need has simply been clear communication and using our structure as a helpful resource to know who needs to connect with whom for each remote project. 

In the face of a crisis, leaders and team members need to look in the mirror and first acknowledge what they need to reinvent within themselves to move forward effectively.

The next step is looking at how to operate with more efficiency or effectiveness by reinventing systems and processes

Finally, leaders must examine their current structure to see if reinvention is necessary to see their powerful purpose sustainably fulfilled.

Commit to the Constant Variable

There are many ways in which leaders must be willing to reinvent, but there must also be some constants that remain. 

The constant variable can be seen as the king in chess. The game could not continue without it. The king is what the leader commits to no matter what else needs to be reinvented; it is the anchor in the storm.

For example, last summer, I scored a ride to our annual fantasy football draft with Russ Sarratt, the Senior Director of WinShape Teams and member of the WinShape Foundation Leadership Team. 

The conversation while riding consisted mostly of small talk, but I thought I would be a fool to not take advantage of the opportunity to learn from one of WinShape’s most respected leaders. 

Here was my question: “What have you learned about leadership that you wish you knew when you started?”

I was expecting something about how to steward a budget, how to structure your team effectively, or appropriate timing when making decisions, etc. However, Russ answered with the bigger picture in mind. 

He said the most important thing he learned about leadership is that it all comes down to caring for your people. His “king” was caring for his people, no matter what the rest of the board looked like.

What Needs to Remain? What Needs to Be Reinvented?

We are all currently facing a global pandemic in the Coronavirus, and this is more of a crisis for some organizations and families than others. 

No matter the level of crisis your team is facing, the two things every leader must be aware of is what needs to remain and what needs to change

What’s the difference? What needs to remain is the purpose of your organization and the values you have committed to. The things that may need reinvention are the pieces of self (skills, routines, etc…), systems and processes, or even team structure.

Finally, know that if you are a leader within your organization, followers are looking to you when a crisis hits. When your queen is taken away, take heart and remain calm as you seek to reinvent how you need to move forward. Use your purpose and values as anchors that can bring comfort to others in uncertainty.

In pursuit of change effectiveness, leaders can check out the book, Organization Change: Theory and Practice by W. Warner Burke. In this resource, Burke examines the different levels and types of change every organization deals with. He provides helpful and practical details of how one should reinvent based on the season.

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