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Running the Hamster Wheel – to disruption

Are you stuck in the hamster wheel- working in the problem rather than on it?  

have been presenting to and talking with a lot of senior executives since we have come out of COVID lockdown, and a common theme (which extends to many CEOs I speak to in other settings) is that they are stuck in the ‘Hamster Wheel’ of their business.

That is, they have been drawn into working so deeply in the business as they try to navigate the current environment, they have no capacity to focus on much else.

The upside of this is that there may be a need for ‘all hands on deck’ to get through and stabilise the business, or in other cases to really take advantage of immediate opportunities.

The downside is that no one waits for you to get better, and the ability to work ON your business is diminished as you are stuck running the hamster wheel IN your business. Whilst you run around and around, you can miss the fact that your customers and their ecosystem continues to change.  You just might be running yourself into extinction.

We keep hearing about the ‘new normal’ – but as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, the only constant is change. The new normal does not exist – only the next normal that is emerging. This constant change means that unless you are actively paying attention to how you are serving your customers where they are moving to, you might jut get left behind.

If you are not paying attention to your customers and how your business is functioning to serve them, then you can miss the signals about changes in your relevance, your value or your fitness to serve them.  They will move on to other options, whilst you continue running the wheel that you always have. This is what disruption looks like – when you only see the wheel you don’t see where it is rolling.

When you hop out you can take a breath. You can get your eyes up on what matters – your customer and what they are experiencing. You can’t see this from inside the wheel and when you step out it will allow you to adjust the business to keep up with them, rather than be left behind.

There is so much you can do to ensure that you don’t get disrupted – the outcome that is most likely when you fail to adapt to that next normal. If you aren’t even looking for it, you are at an even bigger disadvantage.

The personal hamster wheel:

The same idea holds true when you are personally stuck and wanting to make a change.  Sometimes you are working so hard to ‘survive’ or even keep up that you can lack the bandwidth to raise your view and work on the solution, rather than keep attempting to manage with the same problem.  What would happen if you took a ‘time out’ and looked at the situation objectively?  What could you learn?

What is likely is that you can appreciate how hard you have been working doing the bet that you can.  You may also begin to reflect that there might be other way to tackle the problem.  You might even begin to notice that other people have a solution that you can learn from, to allow you to break out of that hamster wheel for good.

So will you hop off the hamster wheel – in business or in life – or will you wait for it to spit you out? You can only go on running in the wheel for so long.

Talk to me about customised programs and coaching that can help you get another view and break out of the hamster wheel.  You can also learn more about how to master the process of change in my latest book – “Mastering he change curve”, available here.

Find out what more you can do by contacting me now.


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