How many remember the long-running TV Series, Lost in Space?
The show first aired in 1965 and creatively told the story of a family of space colonists struggling to survive in the depths of space. It was also the birthplace of the catchy phrase now often used to warn of impending threat, “Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”
The show aired at a time just a few years before I entered the real world, but oddly, I couldn’t feel more closely connected to this intergalactic family than I do today, in the year 2020. After many months of swimming in this endless abyss known as Covid-19, I feel much like the characters in this far-out story, “Lost in Space.”
I am a small business owner. My business is under threat. I live day-to-day drifting amongst the landing and launching pads, trusting that the force of gravity will pull us back to earth again soon. I stay afloat by praying this seemingly infinite space won’t swallow me and my business whole. I hold on to the hope that my tether will withstand the multiple pivots and bounce backs required of me. I put in the hard work it takes to stay relevant in this new and strange universe. I remain optimistic that one day I’ll be prepared to re-enter the atmosphere where I once felt at home.
Who could have imagined in 1965 that we’d be experiencing a similar, pioneering adventure in a VUCA World?
“VUCA”- a trendy term short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity- describes where we are today, in a constant, unpredictable state of change.
Businesses and industries like mine are clawing to keep from succumbing to the strong force of VUCA on their business success and viability. Business owners all around the world are ALL shouting, “Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”
As businesses, organizations, non-profits, churches, educational institutions, anyone who contributes to the well-being of the earth, it’s people and its economy, we are ALL in danger. But it may not be the type of danger we think.
#1- Danger of fearing the unknown.
We are all doing business in new virtual spaces. Sometimes it feels like we’re going “where no man has gone before.” But in many ways, we HAVE been here before. If we are smart, we learn from the past and prepare differently for the future. When the future is unknown (which it always is), CREATIVITY is the air we breathe. In its absence, people notice!
Avoid making the unknown scary. Help people visualize possibilities, seek opportunities, and see themselves in a bright and hopeful future.
#2- Danger of remaining unchanged.
Re-inventing business practices requires getting off the hamster wheel. When the methods we try aren’t working, we shouldn’t be running faster and harder. We should be thinking CREATIVELY! This means stepping out the box and discovering new ways of looking at both the problem and the solution.
Change can be overwhelming. Help people visualize ideas from different perspectives and through diverse lenses. Help them see things in ways they haven’t before.
#3- Danger of staying isolated.
We all await the day where we’ll have our safe landing. But are we prepared for what our industries will look like when we return to earth? Will there be new lifeforms? Will we need to acquire new tools and skills for survival? Will we work together in new and more advanced ways? Will we be CREATIVE enough to step into to this new reality?
Challenge the vagueness of the term, “collaboration.” Are people truly collaborating in ways that strengthen the way teams think and visualize a collective future? Are there opportunities to receive and respond to information in ways that invite ALL types of learners to the table?
Now that we are in the 21st century, the accuracy of the series storyline is surely a bit questionable, but there is one important lesson that can be taken through the centuries. If you think we can return to earth without the key to re-entry, CREATIVITY, stop yourself and shout, “Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”