04 juni 2020

Shape up or ship out: resetting your organisation

Many organisations are considering a (partial) return to the workplace and what the ‘new normal’ is going to look like in terms of working together. An entirely natural response.

Even more important, however, is what organisations are going to continue doing and what not!

These Corona times are forcing organisations to adapt very quickly. But how can you avoid the kind of overloading behaviour (adding new initiatives/activities without getting rid of old ones first) that only ever leads to delays and an increased workload? The trick is to do this quickly and effectively by transferring capacity (talent & time) and budget (funds) to your highest priorities!


1. Corona, and the expected economic downturn, are pushing organisations to make immediate changes and to carry out a strategy check. This inevitably leads to more work (e.g. planning and testing possible scenarios and collecting new data).

2. Remote working has become the new normal extremely quickly, complete with challenges as well as many positive side-effects. One such effect is an improved ability to make decisions (instead of waiting for approval) and an acceptance of the need for quick decision-making. As long as decisions are communicated transparently and clearly.

3. The increased sense of uncertainty calls for more clarity from top levels of organisations regarding what does / doesn’t need to be done, and what should be given priority. Does everyone in your organisation know what they should be focusing on?


1. In most organisations, extra work is usually added to the existing workload, meaning that focus becomes too thinly spread and the risk of overload becomes very real. Or does work just spontaneously disappear in your organisation?

2. In times of increasing uncertainty, we often tend to focus on old and familiar activities instead of on new and more challenging ones.


The necessary adjustments can be made by transferring some of your organisational capacity (talent & time) and budget (funds) from less pressing activities to initiatives & activities that make a real contribution to your company’s ability to successfully adapt to the changing and unpredictable situation. This can be done quickly and efficiently in 3 steps:

1. A Project/Initiative scan using a maximum of 7 criteria will help you to decide whether to continue a project/initiative and gauge the effect this will have on your resources:

I. Start/Speed up, meaning that you will add extra resources

II. Continue, without adding extra resources

III. Time-out, temporarily free-up resources from this project

IV. Stop, resources are unlocked and transferred to a different project

2. Implementation of these decisions immediately unlocks resources that can be diverted to the projects/initiatives in category I.

3. Organisation-wide application of the “shelf space principle”. In a supermarket, an existing product has to be removed first before a new one can be added to the shelf. This metaphor has already been successfully applied in many organisations. Want to add a new project? Then another project will have to be terminated or given a time-out. The same applies to meetings. To introduce a new meeting, an existing one has to be cancelled first.

In the coming months we will be returning slowly but surely to our offices and it will gradually become apparent what the ‘new normal’ is going to look like. Right now there are many activities that have been put on hold within organisations. But what will happen when the ‘new normal’ kicks in? Will you just try to pick up again where you left off or will you make room for new, more pressing activities?

Give us a call and we will lend you a helping hand; in a 75-minute session you can plan your first steps. Can you afford to ignore this opportunity? Are you too busy to make a change?