People of a certain age well remember The A-Team, a television show about a team of ex-military guys who went around righting wrongs and blowing things up that got in their way. Aside from introducing us to Mr. T, the show is notable for the catchphrase of the team’s leader: “I love it when a plan comes together.” Who hasn’t been in a meeting where someone quoted Lt. Col. Hannibal Smith?
Few of their plans worked well; a similar fate befalls many plans — no matter how well thought out they might be. An old boss, while not as spectacular as the cigar-chomping guy in the fancy van, dreamed big but always reminded that the real challenge was in making the right course corrections along the way. The Titanic would not be famous if its captain had followed that advice, i.e. — plowing straight ahead towards a goal, ignoring the dangers that crop up — sounds great in a pep talk but does not produce optimum results.
Great leaders are good at making subtle changes in response to additional information and experience. History buffs marvel at the courage and resolve of the WWI generals sending millions of men to their deaths by sticking with old tactics, despite the emergence of new and more deadly weapons. WWII still saw carnage, but the responses were far more flexible.
The world is presently battling a very tenacious enemy that does not care if we are bored or tired. We need to take the lessons learned so far and develop more nuanced responses than “hunker down in our caves” or “go to the beach.” What works in my sparsely populated community will not work in an urban area. Gear shops that have 10-ton cranes operate differently than shops where you can hold a hundred pieces in one hand.
As your shop or office transitions into a new phase in this pandemic, don’t be afraid to adjust procedures. If something doesn’t seem to be working, change it. It is much more important to be healthy than “right.”