As I bring this series to a close, it is time to talk about the importance of double-loop learning, which comes from the work of Chris Argyris (1923-2013), a professor and researcher of Organizational Behavior. Double-loop learning goes beyond improving systems that already exist (coined single-loop learning by Argyris). It is expansive learning because it examines our underlying assumptions and beliefs while seeking improvement.
Thus, the final step of repeat is more than the idea of continuous improvement. Returning to Step 1, where we examine the chain of thinking-behavior-results, is double-loop learning in action. It is vital because, as evidenced by the changes in response to COVID-19, you can be doing everything right, and then the external world shifts, and you have to shift with it.
Acting from your future doesn't mean that you won't encounter a few detours along the way. In 2007, Seth Godin released The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), an excellent read about confidently quitting the right things and navigating the resistance we encounter in pursuit of our dreams.
"The resistance is real indeed, and it fears being best in the world, it fears being on top, it fears being seen as the winner. So the resistance is just fine with pushing you to wander, to quit the wrong things at the wrong time, and most of all, to seek out the sinecure of mediocrity. The resistance will cajole and wheedle you until you compromise and get stuck with what you believe you deserve, instead of what you are capable of. The resistance wants a map, when you really need a compass.
This video is one of the best summaries of the principles in Godin's book that I could find to share with you.
In conclusion, building your success engine is a journey without a terminal point. Just when you've achieved your vision for success, a new vision awaits you. Even when your next pursuit is retiring, you have work to do. You may have a succession plan to execute. You may seek a buyer for your business. Even if you decide to close up shop, this is merely a milestone in your retirement roadmap.
No one knows how long the COVID-19 restrictions will continue or if they will increase. No one can say with certainty that when we emerge, life will resume as it was before this event happened. Many businesses are already pivoting and repurposing their people and equipment to create products that are needed, such as hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment. Many temporarily shuttered service providers (hair salons, nail salons, and estheticians, to name a few) cannot offer curbside pick-up or virtual services to generate cash flow. No matter where your business is on this continuum, I am confident that these lessons can guide you moving forward.
If you are interested in sharing your stories of inspiration or participating in crowd-sourcing of ideas and resources for small businesses, I invite you to join The Pivot Project on Facebook.