Expecting and embracing change enables organisational stability. What can organisations learn from the Maasai to remain stable in times of change?
Our “ever-changing world”, words so oft heard, yet today, more than ever before, so fitting.
The Novel Coronavirus Pandemic has changed the way we live and work, destabilising the status quo. As we emerge post lockdown as pathfinders into our new world, how will we find a rekindled stability in a new, “ever-changing world”? The answer lies in a culture whose very existence depends on change, the Maasai. These nomadic people of Central Africa teach us how a mindset of fluidity, continuously expecting and embracing change**, has allowed them to maintain a stable way of life in the midst of volatility.
Nomadic people, like the Maasai, do not have a permanent habitat, and migrate their entire lives to greener pastures as seasonal changes occur. From young, the Maasai are taught to foster a mindset of fluidity, where they expect, and are prepared to, on a regular basis, move their homes for the benefit of livestock and, in turn their families. This mindset of fluidity entails the continuous expectance and embracing of change, allowing a fluid transition through both external and internal changes. In this way, the Maasai are able to become more resilient, allowing them to maintain a relatively agile way of living. Without this mindset, variations in season and the environment could easily destabilise their lives.
In many ways, organisations today should, like the Maasai, foster a mindset of fluidity at individual, team, and organisational levels to create stability during times of change. A mindset of fluidity allows organisations to become much more resilient to ongoing change, and the more resilient an organisation is, the greater the likelihood of organisational stability. This mindset of fluidity is a core capability, which once established and embedded as part of culture, becomes a key differentiator, and provides a competitive edge.
Stability, however, is a journey* and a mindset of fluidity underpins this journey.
Typical phases of this journey include:
- Awareness and Understanding: This involves understanding the change that has occurred and its associated impacts at individual, team, organisational and market related levels.
- Direction: This involves reviewing your team’s old state and envisioning their new state – hence establishing the new direction. In focus, these could either be products, services, customers, delivery mechanisms, ways of work etc.
- Buy-in: A critical phase in the journey, where the contents of the aforementioned phases are clearly articulated, tested, and understood at both individual and team levels.
- Mindset Shift: Encompasses creating a mindset of fluidity within your team to support resilience, ultimately sustaining an environment of stability. This could involve an in-depth discussion around key behaviour markers.
- Act: Once the desired mindset shift and direction of the team are understood, the Act Phase involves agreeing upon short-, medium-, and long-term goals and activities and refreshing roles and responsibilities within the team if required.
- Re-stabilise: An extension of the Act Phase whereby the goals, roles, procedures, and interpersonal relationships are reviewed, and aligned to the new direction of the team and organisation.
- Review: All phases of the stabilisation journey should be reviewed with a continuous improvement mindset.
As time unfolds, organisations are faced with more uncertainty than ever before, and the ability to remain stable during these changing times has now become the make or break factor. When an organisation can easily modify itself to adapt to external change, it is able to maintain a level of intrinsic stability. This is why we say stability is change.
* Drexler/Sibbet Team PerformanceTM model. ** Flux Mindset – April Rinne.
Written by Shohan Mootheeram, with contribution from Henriette Rieger
MAC Consulting has developed a comprehensive Stability Service Offering that will not only help your organisation remain stable, but thrive during times of change.