Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face.

March 17, 2020

COVID-19 has taken the medical community, the educational, non-profit, government, and business communities by surprise and launched us into a place of fear, confusion, and anxiety. No one planned for this. Not even close. Even the most profitable organizations with strong and experienced leadership are making decisions that two weeks ago they never would have considered making. The impact on employees is staggering. There doesn’t seem to be many answers except wash our hands frequently and practice social distancing. But are there other ways to address this crisis?
We have the best resource available right now. Our brain. We can think our way out of this by understanding where we can add value, where we derail, and the importance of making decisions that are holistic. More than ever, we need a breadth of thinking to solve this crisis personally and professionally.

For over 40 years, the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument has provided a model to help organizations solve problems, handle crisis, manage rapid change, and grow their leaders. The model is organized into 4 quadrants that map and then explain how we can think through the right scenarios for our jobs and our families. It also maps where our stress behaviors reside that can derail us quickly. Our entire firm uses this holistic HBDI® approach multiple times each day to help us make the best decisions possible.

We have natural preferences in our thinking, similar to being either left or right-handed. Yet, with awareness and intention, we can think through this global crisis using each of our four thinking preferences. Using this model allows us to emerge with whole-brain, intelligent, flexible, and well-balanced decisions. Let’s look at how we can tap into the power of our brain:

Quadrant #1 – Analysis and Facts

  • Strengths of this Quadrant: Gathering information accurately, telling the truth using science and math, staying logical and rational, checking the numbers carefully, examining the issues critically, doing the research and analyzing it. Paying close attention to cash flow and expenses.
  • Stress Behaviors (Overuse): Draconian behavior. Cutting back drastically in the short term on the number of employees and slashing expenses without looking at the long-term cost of replacing good people and reestablishing a culture of trust; not being creative in ways that include feedback from employees and not looking at the long-term outcome.

Quadrant #2 – Procedures and Protocol

  • Strengths of this Quadrant: Organizing and planning, minimizing risks, safekeeping, focusing on timelines and holding people accountable, searching for overlooked details, establishing the right steps to mitigate a crisis in the right order.
  • Stress Behaviors (Overuse): Bunker mentality. Being so risk-averse that we get lost in the details and don’t look at the opportunities; retreating to a “my way or the highway” approach; making short-term, rigid decisions without examining the long-term impact; creating directives that hurt people and damage the culture based on believing there is only one solution.

Quadrant #3 – Culture and Team

  • Strengths of this Quadrant: Building resilient teams through interpersonal engagement that weather turbulent environments and crisis; helping ourselves and others reach our potential with teaching, coaching, and training; creating optimism, passion and purpose.
  • Stress Behaviors (Overuse): Cult Leader. Overwhelmed by emotion in difficult times and reacting with anger, depression, or dangerous directives; distracted, unable to focus, will delay important decision-making; feelings override logic and emotions override reason.

Quadrant #4 – Perspective and Innovation

  • Strengths of this Quadrant: Visionary, strategic, can take risks and sleep at night; always looking at the bigger picture to provide perspective to a situation; able to generate a lot of ideas, approaches, and paths forward.
  • Stress Behaviors (Overuse): Disconnected from Reality. Ideas are impractical, expensive; too many ideas and no sustained focus; won’t listen to best practices or learn from history; wants freedom to spend without restraints.

We will get through this crisis. We always have. We survived plague, wars, and the flu pandemic that was contracted by one third of the populations of the world in 1918. We all hope it will be months, not years, and we know that a lot of this is out of our control, except the social distancing and personal hygiene.

What is 100% under our control is what we think and become through this. How we are on the other side of this crisis. I believe this is a defining moment in the leadership of each of us as employees, family members, and community volunteers. Through understanding how our brain works, we will not just recover, but thrive. We can be more determined to make our lives count. May we never again casually take things for granted. When this crisis ends, we can find ourselves better people in every way.

My very best to you and your family,

Please contact us with questions or feedback at sbixler@bixlerconsulting.com