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Two months into the pandemic, are you transforming your mental models for leadership and management?

As states and counties begin modifying COVID-19 sheltering restrictions, the pressure to return to “business as usual” is substantial. But practical concerns like hygiene, compliance, and customer assurance remain a priority, and the opportunity is ripe to envision a future that differs significantly from even the recent past. As individuals, organizations, and even as a society, trying to find balance between going “back to normal” and defining a “new normal” is the topic of the day.

We heard really helpful ideas on our last Solar Town Hall from solar contractors who have been taking careful measures to safely return crews to the jobsite. When you replay the webinar, you’ll notice some common themes across the stories of these solar leaders — words like listening, communicating, being flexible, and adapting. As each owner, CEO, or president weighed their options, they made conscious, personal decisions to trust mental models that still applied, while abandoning or transforming mental models that did not.

The world has changed, and our industry now has a different set of operational principles associated with it than before. Everything from digitalization (especially in the sales process) to global supply chain resilience (and how that’s going to be prioritized over just-in-time or lowest-cost principles) to a new emphasis on individual and community energy security, to increased awareness of the balance between economy and environmental well-being: all these changes from these mere nine weeks exemplify our new reality — and a new, requisite awareness to match.

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Town Hall: A Solar Shift? Mental Models for the New Normal

Out of pandemic disruptions, how can our solar industry break molds and embrace innovations in digitization and engagement?

The balancing act that business leaders must perform to navigate this global pandemic and its human and economic fallout is certainly a rational exercise. But good leaders recognize it is also a psychological one. A rigid mentality of “but we’ve always done it like this” — caused essentially by fear of the unknown — will prevent a company from adapting to (or even defining) an altered playing field. Increasing our comfort with ambiguity and being open to possibility are essential leadership qualities to cultivate in this time.

In the coming months, I’m really excited to see how our solar community takes stewardship of an emerging awareness — in examining our lessons learned to-date and asking ourselves which of our preexisting mental models still serve us, and which ones may be ripe for transformation. Moving ahead, I look forward to seeing how we innovate on every level — individually, organizationally, as an industry, and as a society — in response to unfolding challenges and unexpected opportunities.

Yes, we all need to get back to work. We all need to take care of our livelihoods and take care of our families. And in order to survive and thrive, we need to also challenge our beliefs and assumptions about how the world is changing. The mental models of our teams must be flexible and adaptable to new conditions and possibilities, so our strategies and policies have space to transform.

More soon. Until then, I look forward to seeing you in an upcoming #SolarTownHall.

— Boaz

Boaz Soifer is the CEO of BayWa r.e. Solar Systems LLC and the Director of Solar Distribution for the Americas for BayWa r.e. (Global).

BayWa r.e. Solar Systems LLC supplies solar installers in the United States with best-in-class components, business planning advice, and a community of experts. Learn more at www.solar-distribution.com, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter, subscribe to our podcasts and YouTube, and bookmark our daily updated COVID-19 resource page. Part of the BayWa r.e. global family of renewable energy companies.