Nothing Usual About Business As Usual

Lately I’ve heard the phrase business as usual a lot. Is it trending right now?

Think uncertainty. It’s become the norm for many of us. In a business sense, the job we have today can be gone tomorrow, in a flash. We’ve seen time and time again people lose their jobs at a short notice or a shop on your street close down without a warning. While some may have that “not in my back yard” mentality, none of us is immune to change. We’re all in the same boat.

What’s around the corner? We may never know beforehand. What hasn’t changed is change itself. Many say expect the unexpected. Nice try! Psychologically, it gives us some “normality” to look forward to. At least we can still expect something – even though it’s unpredictability we’re talking about. Who’s got that crystal ball? Give it to me!

If someone says to you: Business as usual. Before you hurry to buy into it, wait a second and ask yourself: Is it what it seems to be or have they got something to hide? I guess it depends on the context but if it’s something that may affect you, you have a good reason to doubt their word.

The message is: You shouldn’t be worried, but you should be wary.

Just a couple of weeks ago, my company held a 3-day conference in Sydney. Fun fun fun. When you have everyone sitting around the table in the same room, you can be sure your word will be under scrutiny and under the watchful eye of many.

In the opening and introduction, no surprise, what took centre stage was the business outlook in the next 12 months. There were words of wisdom and words of encouragement coming out of my CEO. Overall, he was very blunt and much direct to the point about our situation, foreseeable.

What situation? The talk of merger had been going on for a while. Finally, we were given a green light by ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) right on the open day of our conference. The timing couldn’t have been more suitable.

No sugar-coating that kind of stuff we wanted from our CEO, just facts we were interested in. No disappointments. He delivered just that. One thing that’s stuck in my head since and left me with something to chew on was – Beware, uncertainty ahead. Speaking of uncertainty, coincidentally, the night before I went publishing a post on my blog entitled Next Stop, The Unknown ( Could I have seen the sign already? Go check it out if you’ve got 3 to 5 minutes.

To be told business as usual is just cold comfort. It’s a quick tactic to buy time and perhaps some stability in the current climate. People don’t need to hear happy talk or sweet talk, they prefer facts. Truth will out. If there’ll be challenges coming their way, be honest, tell them so. People would appreciate it more. The last thing they want to deal with is anything that may later turn out as a big surprise. No one likes to be misled.

Ironically, there’s nothing usual about business as usual. It’s a dog eat dog world. In any competition, there’ll be winners and losers. Our best bet is to increase our chances for success. Even though we have little control over the future, we love clinging to the outcome that’s human nature. The undeniable yet uncomfortable truth is only time will tell, not a fortunate teller. No need to be overly optimistic or pessimistic about the unknown. As pointed out by the guest speaker who came to talk to us about resilience on the last day of the conference, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a glass half full person or half empty person, the more important thing is make sure the glass is refillable…

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