Let’s not pivot; let’s pirouette
It occurred to me the other day that as the year draws to a close the natural thing to do is to reflect on how it’s gone, the highs, the lows, the holidays, the tears and the lessons learned.
Having worked in learning and development for over 20 years I am always looking for the learning in any experience and my goodness this year has given us quite a bit to ponder!
My daughter’s 21st Birthday party was on the evening of 21st January 2020, a happy and balloon covered affair (not the guests, the decorations…. although some guests may be questionable). We danced into the evening celebrating, blissfully unaware that on that very night almost 6,000 miles away in Wuhan this virus was already spreading, and lockdown was being implemented.
As a predominantly face-to-face leadership development business that was thriving, doing exciting work with great clients and on a mission to change the face of future leadership, the pandemic threw a very definite curve ball into our plans here at Ivy House. Suddenly, and without warning our whole business model was thrown into question, on a daily basis the news changed and none of it for the better, in fact I recall saying to my husband one morning before switching the TV on “I wonder what fresh hell awaits us today….” It was a truly disturbing time.
So, I sit here now, reflecting on our team and our actions, the risks we took, the clients who stood by us, (you know who you are, and I will love you forever!), the investments we made, and the free coaching resources we offered to support teams and individuals working remotely or struggling with the change happening around them.
The virus hit our own team hard too and I still recall the breathless efforts of our Marketing Director as she tried to soldier on after being hospitalised by the disease. “Just talk to me but I won’t answer because it’s difficult to speak” she typed into the chat on a Teams meeting (despite everyone having told her to go to bed!). But such was the commitment from this small team to find a way through and pull together that thankfully she is back to her full glory today after a heroic effort to balance the needs of her own health and the health of our business.
Our forward commitment with clients in 2021 is the strongest it has ever been, our NPS score has increased to an incredible 98, in no small part down to our Product Director Clare, who when faced with the task of moving all of our programmes onto a new digital platform said “I’m not going to make it as good as our face-to-face, my aim is to make it even better”. No shoddy Teams, WebEx, Zoom or PowerPoint solution would do for us, if we were going to do this, deliver awesome for our clients and create change for our delegates, we were going to do it right.
With news this week that a vaccine is being rolled out as soon as mid-December, it’s fair to say the world looks a whole lot brighter than it did in March. Our new virtual programmes have allowed us to grow our product suite to support a broader audience, our price point has reduced as we no longer have travel and venue costs to consider. Our work with schools has accelerated beyond comprehension and has become a global programme to support young people from all backgrounds to develop the skills to live their best lives, and our team are all back together (albeit remotely) and working better than ever.
What have I learned?
Well for one thing I have a newfound hatred for the term ‘new normal’ and ‘unprecedented’! I also realise that my own limiting belief around virtual training has changed forever.
I will never again take for granted the joy of sitting with a client and drinking a coffee while we chat and my team better brace themselves for a huge hug as soon as it’s possible!
As I said to our founder Elke Edwards earlier today, we didn’t just pivot, we pirouetted, and I think it’s time to take a bow!
Who knows what 2021 will hold for us all – but we look forward to seeing you there!
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