How To Be Agile In Times Of Disruption Like Now

Birth of King Tutankhamun 1346 BC.

Fall of Rome 476 AD.

In most English-speaking parts of the world, significant global events are labeled BC for things that occurred before the birth of Christ and AD “Anno Domini” for ones that came after. Never understood why one gets Latin and the other doesn’t?

A millennium and a half after Romulus Augustulus was deposed from the Roman throne, 911 (2001 AD) was an event that changed a lot of things for many people – from air travel to 24/7 camera surveillance in towns and cities.

However, not everyone travels by air. Not everyone lives in an urban area.

The global corona virus event/situation has changed almost EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE (in the online world). 

I’m sure we’ll soon be saying things like “she was born post corona”, or “we met pre corona” – a new label for historical calendars perhaps (BC AD ?).

When I tell people when I moved to Munich a few weeks after my 30th birthday, they have no idea when that was. When I say it was a few weeks before 911, they know exactly.

Just like with 911, most people will have a distinct recollection of where they were and what they were doing during the Corona Crisis 2020.

Yes, the world has changed. Forever. With imposed homeworking, closed schools and other inconveniences, most of us are still looking for that silver lining…

I recently asked a few former coachees and workshop participants this question:

“How specifically have things changed for you in your work?” 

I intentionally didn’t ask how about negative or positive changes. I wanted to leave it open to their individual perspectives.

See if you can find yourself in their feedback:

Shared Experience Makes Agile

From a young parent sharing daycare duty with his spouse to an older professional at home with her retired spouse, here are a few of the pictures I got back (Russia – Singapore):

  • The Focused Leader –

“For me the core principles of leadership have not changed…I have to apply other means (telephone instead of face to face meeting), but the goal remains the same…”

  • The Blocked Professional –

“Since actuaries have to use big data sets, our work has gotten less efficient as we have to wait longer for results…last Thursday morning I was blocked with the VPN log-in and had to wait for the IT Help Desk to unblock it…”

  • The Virtual Communicator –

“In a virtual communication, it is difficult to draw the full attention from the participants, as they might do something else at the same time. Therefore, it is necessary to ask for individual opinions explicitly…”

  • The Frustrated Professional –

“Not working IT and insufficient personnel support…during ‘Corona’ times – only phone support. The system is not stable. 5-10 times a day I have to connect again…”

  • The Experienced Homeworker –

“In my life as a consultant in India most of my clients were US/Australia based and most of my work was remote / home working. So, I feel I am much more adapted to this lifestyle than some of the other colleagues.”

  • The Aware Leader –

“People need all 5 senses in order to perform…visibility and smelling are missing.”

  • The Young Parent –

“I’m able to work at maybe 75% of the normal rate. Family life has to be taken care of, there is no way I can dedicate 100% of my time home with my family around…it’s more difficult than usual…”

  • The Lonely Team Player –

“After two weeks of remote working from home I already feel isolated from my colleagues…Although we have daily startup calls, I start to miss the short interactions/conversations you normally have during the day…”

  • The Quarantined Professional –

“I made the decision to fly back to Singapore (family and medical resources were major factors)…While the environment here is much better for working, I have to cope with the 6 hour time difference…I also have to serve a 14 day stay at home notice upon my return to Singapore…”

  • The Opportunist –

“We can’t use wide range of instruments to present something…we need to perfect our verbal skills and our reports – they should be easy for understanding and clear. So, I need to spend more time to create reports that will work.  But maybe we needed this push for quality changes of ourselves.”

  • The Uncomfortable Telecommuter –

“Still, I ordered an office chair and a monitor because my equipment at home is not optimal from an ergonomical point of view…in our Webex meetings we only talk about the business, and the otherwise very common personal exchange is missing.”

  • The Adjusted Professional –

“We are lucky that our infrastructure can support so many people working from home. People are adjusting faster and better than expected.”

This cross-section of professionals and regions shows you that you are not alone.

Knowing your situation is shared helps you be agile in times of disruption like now.


As you can see, there are many diverse opinions and perspectives – some quite positive, others less so.

The truth is, everything will look differently tomorrow than it does today…or at least that’s how I feel with my work situation.  Some days I’m optimistic that we’re going to all come out of this stronger than before…other days I feel like this is just the beginning of future catastrophes that will make this one seem mild.

Bottom line – we’re all in this together. So what ever happens next, it’ll happen to all of us.  

I do take comfort in that.

How are you feeling about the situation today?  

  • Thanks for the article, Tim. I’m finding that the leaders who are people focused are adjusting to the new way of working faster. They are using virtual Tools and taking extra time to connect.
    This applies to those of us in office roles – for those who cannot work from home, I’d be curious how leaders are inspiring their people. Any thoughts from other Readers?

    • Thanks, Rebecca. Yes, taking the extra time to connect or whatever seems to be essential! Great Q to other readers – l’m also curious about how they are managing this.