The counter-intuitive in a crisis, strengthens organisations, & ultimately society by Karen Walker

When caught in a rip, lifesavers teach us not to follow our intuition to swim against it towards the safety of the shore, rather swim across it parallel to the shore, seemingly away from safety. Following our intuition against an indomitable force for any swimmer, risks exhaustion and being swept out to sea.

In times of crisis, like the global corona-virus pandemic, for many organisations, the intuition is to head towards the safety of reducing costs and financial loss.

The pandemic is seen as an unyielding economic riptide, staying financially afloat whilst it takes it course, is to survive until the danger has passed.

The Counter-Intuitive in a Crisis

Instead of the perceived safety of staying afloat financially, other organisations see the future and safety beyond the rip, and head in that direction. They see the future is their people.

These organisations focus on improving their 'swimming stroke', seeing safety in changing direction for a destination that requires investing in their people and capability.

Rather than the fear and panic that comes with just surviving, they experience a sense of purpose and calmness, that comes from looking, and moving forward, together.

Innovation in Hard Times

As all Australians witnessed during our recent, tragic bushfires, when complete strangers connect and join forces, together they achieve the most amazing, innovative ways of supporting each other.

Social distancing, and hunkering down, shouldn't mean social disconnection, and reducing our resources for human compassion, creativity, and innovation.

Quite the opposite, it requires investing in the existing capability and wisdom of organisations, by creating an environment in which employees can co-create what's needed to swim across the tide. Maybe even arriving in better shape than before the crisis.

There's safety and wellness in working together - even if we're at a geographic distance - to look after each other.

Whilst it may feel counter-intuitive, organisations with a crisis strategy of investing in its people and culture, can reap the rewards of agility, adaptability, and innovation, including strengthening the resilience of the communities in which they operate.


Karen Walker is an Advisor, Expert and Operative in Strategy Execution, the series of decisions and actions undertaken to turn strategic visions of organisations into reality. An evolving journey of understanding possibilities and using situational awareness to adapt tactics and goals to realise maximum value. 

A specialist in the casino and gaming industry, with extensive experience in the implementation of new and innovative practices and the establishment of greenfield operations, Karen’s career spans senior operational management and leadership, program director, project and change management, and business transformation lead roles, across a number of sectors.