Red Light! Green Light! Embrace the Disruption of Recess

APRIL 30 / Kierra Leimert



It’s almost 10:30 am. You continuously shift your focus between the classroom window and the slow creep of the clock’s second hand. Finally, the bell sounds off—recess!

Overjoyed, you’re released into the schoolyard with all your peers. Everyone spreads out anxiously awaiting the commands of the one chosen to be IT. IT stands, back facing everyone like a traffic light, and yells out “Green light!”. Everyone rushes towards IT.  IT flips around and hollers “Red light!”. Everyone freezes.


Recess is in Session

It has been some time since most of us have found ourselves locked out of our regular schedules, passing time until the bell rings. For some of us, the new COVID-19 landscape provides a much-needed break. For others, an unwanted interruption. Either way, we’re facing a new normal. So, how do we make the most of it?

Everything has turned upside down. Many of us are finding ourselves in a bizarre kind of recess as businesses, recreational facilities and parks are suspended to prevent the spread of the virus. It’s up to us whether we freeze and wait for the next command or accept our new normal and keep moving ahead.

Red light! The Freeze Effect

When a red light was called out during recess, everyone would stay as still as they possibly could. After all, moving during a red light came with a hefty toll. Freezing in place didn’t help you move forward, but there was a sense of security in knowing that you wouldn’t be set back behind the others either.

For many of us, social distancing has triggered a red light response. People have been stockpiling in a panic. Markets have been quieting down. Business as usual has been replaced with risk management protocol. Many find themselves out of work or paused indefinitely.

Red light!—Stock up on essentials and stay home.
Red light!—Cancel all networking and industry events.
Red light!—Close the office and assign remote work.
Red light!—Tighten belts and protect assets.
Red light!—Enter standoff with competitors.

Alright, that’s enough of that.


Greenlight! The Opportunity to Keep Moving

When a green light was called out during recess, everyone would make a mad dash to the finish. By the time the light changed, some would have made it farther than others. But then there were those who would scout out extra opportunities to move, under the radar, when IT wasn’t looking. These were the ones who were most often caught and sent back to the start. Despite the setbacks, they were also most often the winners.

Back in the schoolyard, this is how we would adapt and thrive. Each time our peers were brave enough to try a new tactic and risk being setback, we learned as a collective and grew stronger, wiser, and bolder.

Many are resisting that guttural instinct to freeze and paving the way for continued growth instead: local distilleries are making hand sanitizer, restaurants are offering delivery meal kits, and Google is running a COVID-19 screening website. By continuing to search for green lights, we keep moving ahead. 

Greenlight! Help where they are and how they want.

Our audiences are more reliant on online channels now than ever.  Online sales are increasing. Digital tactics and technologies are vital for businesses to continue to meet consumer demand and make support accessible from home. Consumers are facing a crisis too, how can you be of help?

Related article: Search Insights to Help You Understand Consumer Needs in Uncertain Times

Greenlight! Make meaningful connections through dialogue.

Our audiences are more checked into online media now than ever. Socially isolated, we’re all craving human connection. Online content marketing and community-building strategies are our opportunities to help audiences stay connected for a common purpose. What narratives can you tell to bring your people together online?

Related articles: People’s Attention Spans Aren’t Shrinking They’re Evolving, COVID 19 and Remote Conference is Inspiring Technology for Good

Greenlight! Activate and inspire through an open remote workspace.

Staff are more alienated now than ever. If you’re nonessential, remote work is your new normal. For many of us, working from home presents new distractions or significant obstacles to productivity. Technology and effective online communication strategies will help us establish structure, set expectations and engage the workforce remotely. Do your staff have the support they need to feel checked in from home?

Related article: Making the Switch to Remote Work 5 Things We’ve Learned

Greenlight! Adapt to the market and expand your territory.

The need to adapt couldn’t be stronger. Drops in stock prices and changes in consumer behaviour are disrupting entire markets around the world. It’s times like this that set the stage for new business. Newmarket leaders will be born by adapting and embracing disruptions instead of resisting them. You may find the big players oddly quiet or distracted, what can you do to change the game?

Related articles: Distilleries Across Canada Fight COVID-19 by Making Hand Sanitizer, Peloton is Clearly Benefiting From Global Quarantines New Data Show


Unite in Common Purpose to Win

As long as we’re in recess, we might as well learn a thing or two from the schoolyard. Our lives and businesses have entered a new normal. We can stand paralyzed by the red lights glaring right in front of us, or we can look around them to spot the green lights instead.

Greenlight!—Help where they are and how they want.
Greenlight!—Make meaningful connections through dialogue.
Greenlight!—Activate and inspire through an open remote workspace.
Greenlight!—Adapt to the market and expand your territory.

This is our opportunity to step outside of our daily routines and build a deeper rapport with peers over common obstacles. Take risks, explore new possibilities, and encourage one another to learn and pivot together. Stronger, wiser, bolder— embrace this disruption and we can all win.

Navigate the New Normal

The UPLIFT STUDIO X LAB team is putting together a new blog series to explore topics, strategies and tactics that organizations can employ to embrace disruption, tackle today’s challenges, and make the most of this new normal together. Follow along by joining the fun on LinkedIn or sign up for the UPLIFT community newsletter.  

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