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Leadership calendar    May 07, 2020

Anticipate & Adjust: Week 9 - Stretching for the Habit Zone

In this week’s memo to CEOs, Christopher Clark discusses taking newfound behaviors and turning them into habits.

The week nine memo that was sent to our CEOs across the country on Sunday, May 3:

The Swan presents us with another opportunity for positive change. This opportunity focuses on the inner core, the nerve center of how you get things done every day. This potential is at the intersection of beliefs, values and behaviors.

Beliefs in a company are heavily determined by founders and CEOs. Beliefs are translated to vision and values of the company. Behaviors determine the culture of a company. Behaviors are carried out by all employees.

Our CEO Exchange survey and many comments from you in the last month have said that productivity has increased in this current WFH mode. These positive developments are behaviors that came overnight and are happening over the last 40 to 50 days.

Your comments on this unforeseen productivity boost include:

  • People express deeper thoughts with more time on fewer things and less shallow work
  • Conversations and presentations are more intentional
  • People who don’t normally communicate with each other are communicating now
  • Punctuality for meetings has increased with video versus in the office
  • Engineers have increased participation on slack and talk more outside their groups
  • People are better at following the processes around the factory model
  • Documents are getting completed on time
  • Our meetings are shorter and more concise
  • People are sending out updates faster and more completely
  • Our “All Hands” meetings are voluntary and now in WFH about 90% attend
  • Dry cleaning bills are lower 


There are many more but two additional ones from our survey stand out:

  • Relationships and personal information sharing occur as a more natural course.
  • Everyone must work hard to structure their day between alone time and time for interaction. Our mantra is “we are getting closer by being apart.”


My amateur research this weekend in psychology journals and business books states that it takes about two months to form a habit. Fascinatingly, many experts cite exactly 66 days. The range can run to 254 days depending on circumstances and conditions. Coincidently this Black Swan is now into its seventh week. We are two weeks away from the habit vesting timeline.

The CEO’s best lever to ensure beliefs, values and behaviors are alive is through personal example. You are doing this. It is not possible for these upticks to be occurring without your leadership and others around you supporting every employee. There are written rules in the employee handbook and there are many unwritten rules in a company. I think we are in unwritten rule territory at the moment. Several weeks ago, I wrote on VUCA and its effectiveness as a framework to grasp and think about the current black swan maelstrom.

There is a vaccine being tested in your companies to persevere and excel in a VUCA world. It is what you and your entire organization have been doing in the last six weeks. For the sake of ease, I will call it "Vaccine VUCA."

Table ImageThe United States is moving toward some version of a re-opening in the weeks and months ahead. According to the scholars and the scientists, you have a couple more weeks where Vaccine VUCA can become a habit. A habit happens through conscious planning and practice. It happens with written documentation and rewards. It is believed and adopted through personal example. 


There is goodness herein to be learned, mapped and codified in the written rules as well as the unwritten rules of your company in 2020. You are reaping rewards without yet all the systemic change done. It is hard work but the payoff seems to be a force multiplier for every employee in the company including you. 


Good luck.


We are here 24x7.



Edison Partners