I have been talking with a lot of people committed to positive transformation from this challenging period – all sorts of Chief’s, Directors, and Strategy Consultants.

There is a lot on the move and most of us are still sorting through trying to navigate what is immediately in front of us.  Which is fair enough given many of the predictions that could have spread across this decade have already happened in the first six months.  What I have been observing though is within the strategy and strategy execution field.

The people aspect of strategy and strategy execution is stepping to a new level.

Not just Personnel as an important coordination and administrative function, not just human resources as important inputs in financial and strategic modelling, a deeper view of people. Not just leaders stating ‘our people are our most important asset’. A more human view of leadership, relationships, and what it is to be a purposeful and effective organization.  The stuff CEOs don’t delegate, that they want to be close to, develop in, and is core to how they lead from here.

The saying ‘the future is already here –  it’s just not very evenly distributed’ was originally said by science fiction writer William Gibson in the 1970s.  The positioning of People & Culture in the thick of strategy development and execution is not new.  The observation is that strategists are seeing the gap between CEOs and leadership teams that ride this megatrend and those that don’t accelerating as we look at this decade.  It is changing the range of scenarios to consider and organizational Risk Matrices.  Now matters for your traction and trajectory.



To ground ourselves it is useful to do a snapshot of what is going on right now for the leaders committed to positive transformation.  Everyone is still navigating. It is not a straight-forward time.

I am sharing observations I have been gathering to assist leadership teams with reflection and as a starter to flesh out for expanding shared understanding.  I would welcome your challenge and builds to better understand this shift that is underway.  I would particularly call out Chief of People and Culture, Directors of People & Culture as the door is open for different discussions at the strategy and leadership table.


What are we hearing?

This is a complex time requiring attention to detail not assumptions of familiar trends, and we have all heard the word ‘unprecedented’ more than at any other time in our careers.

This is a transformative period.  At work and at home we can hear in discussions a sense that we are in a historical moment for our sector and globally.

CEOs and organisations that have stepped forward for their employees and clients doing it tough are being acknowledged.

It is most likely there will be further government interventions which we would not have put in our plans even a year ago.

There is increasing anxiety of the economic picture of the next 1-3 years.

There are more people openly discussing being human in our work roles.  Talk of being community contributors rather than profit takers or funding administrators.  Talk of raised awareness of the commitments out of the office, as many people work from home.

With so much leadership work active virtually there are more discussions on our effective use of technology already available than before.  Casual chatter about preferred platforms and personal effectiveness tools has spread way beyond the tech early adopter crowd.  Screen fatigue is now a widely discussed ‘thing’.

Global politics is back as a mainstream discussion and drawing the links to sector implications a revived social banter.

Whatever we, or our organization, have achieved coming in to this phase we are now hearing – “What got us here, won’t get us there!”


What are we seeing?

The 2020s is already a distinctly different period to the decade before, and 20th century norms are receding into a period in history that we look back on.

The concept of transformative shifts in society, sectors, and organization is more accepted in what people see, than even five years ago.

The phases of transitions are being scoped into tight and specific timeframes at both the big picture level such as pandemic phases and the specific organizational level navigating response and progress.

The Sector lines we have been accustomed to are blurring as consumer/ citizen expectations raise, technologies develop and converge, capabilities and talents are moving across sectors.

People are speaking up and raising awareness of deep systemic issues in our society AND our organizational ways of working.

Deep and meaningful discussions on Complex Adaptive Systems and maximizing Human potential are occurring at Board and Executive level.

We are all reviewing our strategies.  We are seeing flawed assumptions in our strategies and underlying governance and operating systems.


What are we thinking about?

As is our human nature in times of uncertainty there is a lot on our mind.  There are mixed thoughts and emotions.

The weight of accountability and responsibility is heavy.

While there is excitement of innovating strategy, the likely breakthroughs we will witness this decade, and a desire to be a contributor to people and organisations being the ‘best version of themselves’.

The reality of navigating the near and medium term future is top of mind.  We need to navigate well to be in a position, professionally and as an organization, to continue to have an impact.

There is heightened awareness of the foundations of retaining great people around us, cashflow is King, and not getting caught too far ahead, or too far behind the market (or depending on the situation, the government funding).

What are we saying/doing?

Currently, the priority focus is moving from the initial Covid19 response phase and the adjustments we had to make.  There is a lot to do on the ‘Urgent/ Important list’, and particularly a lot of people to communicate with.

Planning horizons are tightly defined as there are a lot of conditions outside of our circle of influence.

We are acting on a heightened sense of curiosity; reading, watching and joining online discussions on a broad range of topics.

We are expanding our circle of influence through:

  • Building trust with colleagues, teams, customers, and community
  • Reviewing the resilience capabilities of our strategic frame – monitoring, responding, learning, and anticipating
  • Working on our Inner leadership development
  • Strengthening our leadership team dynamic


As this time is so dynamic I expect that this snapshot will need a significant update by September.


If you would like to share your observations or discuss your situation please make contact (Bernie@BernieKelly.com)


Bernie is known for building capability and confidence in leaders who need to transform organisations that are continually reshaping to survive and thrive.

Change fit leaders can; expose the gaps of the business and it’s capability, explore the reality, expand their thinking and see alternative pathways and have the energy to exert to see the change through.

Bernie has contributed to many major turnarounds and transformations and has a long track record of developing successful leaders.

Currently, his focus is helping organisations navigate Match Fit for Post Covid19