2021: do we believe in the 12 grapes or in our steps?



We all know the scenario of the last day of the year: the nervous before the chimes, glass of champagne in one hand, 12 grapes in the other and a huge conviction in listing the 12 wishes we have planned for the next 365 days. It’s going to be this time!

According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of our “carefully chosen” wishes never come true, many of them being forgotten by the middle of February. If on the one hand, we can find comfort in these numbers (whew! We are not unique), on the other we can question why we repeat a tradition without any commitment to make it come true, year after year.

In a pandemic period, where most of our 2020 goals have been ruined by COVID-19 (is it really?), it is hard not to be discouraged and to remember the phrase “Man plans, God laughs“. Who knows what this year 2021 has in store for us? How can we plan objectives in such an uncertain and volatile times?

And if for us as individuals it is difficult, as organizations the challenge is even greater. After debates and alignments to find consensus of the “12 corporate steps”, the path to the goals must be adjusted and prepared – after all, it is our steps, individual and collective, that trace the success of our desires. Even if conditions are adverse, it is our decisions that keep us going, charting a year that is more than a continuation of 2020.

After all, it is our individual and collective steps that map out the success of our desires.”

Just like the grape wishes, it’s not enough to verbalize “be healthier” and “be happier”, it requires commitment, motivation, and action. Last year I was so committed to my personal reading goal, with planning, genre and author criteria established, that even the externality of the pandemic played in my favor: I tripled the number of books I intended to read.

2020 was indeed a difficult and atypical year – but is it really a year to forget? It was a year where we learned, tested, made mistakes, and tried again until it worked. Technology will continue to be the ally of our operations, enabling new ways of working and collaborating. Now that we’ve made that tumultuous and urgent journey, it’s time to sediment it, make new investments, ensure robustness and flexibility for a much likely uncertain period as well – but with more and better prepared teams.

The concept of “anti-fragility” makes more sense nowadays than in the year Nassim Taleb edited his book “Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder“, where he highlights that uncertainty is something present and desirable, and that we do not need to have the ability to predict the future to make the best decisions. It won’t be precisely the stiffness and full control of our actions but the mechanisms that allow us to be less fragile, more resilient, resistant to shocks and increasingly focused on dealing with the unforeseen

anaging teams requires more benevolence and transparency in the face of so much uncertainty, misinformation and ignorance of what awaits us.

On the other hand, team management requires more benevolence and transparency in the face of so much uncertainty, misinformation, and ignorance of what awaits us. Working with remote teams, the tight control of an unpredictable reality will not be a variable that contributes to success. With the focus on the autonomy and trust of operators, creating a culture of “good enough for now and safe enough to try” (based on the concepts of sociocracy) may be a way to find new approaches and solutions, with the participation of all those who take care of our customers daily.

And if we are to rely on something we can’t see, then let us rely on oxytocin, as Simon Sinek mentions in his book “Leaders eat last”. Facing the threats ahead cannot be done alone – at least effectively. It requires having (and above all being) the support of those around us. The more oxytocin release we promote, the stronger the bonds of trust, the more risks people will take to do the right thing, the more they will look after each other and, of course, the better the performance of the organization.

If we ask anyone who has suffered a painful episode in their life how they got through it, we are sure to hear “I couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t had the support of … (family, friend, colleague)” – so let’s not forget that. Of course, we all have the ambition to aim for ‘more and better’ – but this year, even with ‘less’, our focus should be on ‘better’. It is important that we define the fundamentals of our operations, commit to levels of quality excellence, and maintain the commitment that we will not fail those who need us – customers, partners, and colleagues.