The Center’s Workgroups are optimistic they can help people stay optimistic

Best practice question: How can you build optimism in your organization during hard times?


  • Vicki Holschuh
  • Steve Johannsen
  • Susan Dineen
  • Kevin Hickman
  • Bill Mitchell
  • Nathan Bares
  • Derrick Van Mell

The three discussion questions

  1. How do you provide everyone reassurance?
  2. How do you create exciting new ideas?
  3. How do you maintain your own energy and sanity?

How do you provide everyone reassurance?

  • Be honest: Tell people the truth about what’s happening
  • Stick to the facts: Facts are emotionally neutral and should speak for themselves
  • Get ahead of gossip: If you don’t provide the facts, people will make them up
  • Cadence: Communicate often on a schedule and stick to it
  • Embrace The Stockdale Paradox: Face reality and maintaining your aspiration
  • Don’t cut corners: You’re under a brighter spotlight, so lapses will be seen as large
  • Be consistent: Create talking points for executives and the board
  • Know your audiences: Anticipate what kind of information each audience will hear
  • Take the long view: Remind people about what hasn’t changed

How do you create exciting new ideas?

  • Start with your mission, your calling, your Why
  • Seek ideas out: Ask, “Where are the opportunities in this crisis?”
  • Accept them: Leaders need to be open to ideas, even during a crisis
  • Smaller, shorter and fewer meetings: “White space” among meetings lets ideas germinate
  • Be quick: Good ideas usually emerge in the first 5 or 10 minutes of a meeting
  • Throw out the manual: Let everyone know it’s time to reinvent
  • Start small: Take innovation in small steps. Don’t aim for a breakthrough
  • Experiment often: The best time to change things is when things are changing

How do you maintain your own energy and sanity?

  • Stay fit: Regular exercise, eat well, sleep. You know you should
  • Have a hobby: Put your concentration elsewhere
  • Celebrate incremental successes: Don’t let your positivity fall below zero
  • Be grateful: Things could be worse and remember that nothing lasts forever
  • Be proud of enduring: Facing a crisis makes you a better person
  • Show appreciation of others: Not just what they do, but who the underlying talent

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