Change is inevitable. It’s happening at this very moment, impacting the way we live, work and do business. It’s very tempting to resist change – hoping that it’ll be possible to go back to how things were before. Hoping that we can RESTART BY DEFAULT, meaning that we can fall back to our default way of being, thinking and acting.

The current health pandemic and its aftermath is confronting us with many changes and challenges at the same time. How to react? What if we see it, despite all challenges, as opportunity? What if we decide to opt for a RESET BY DESIGN? RESETTING BY DESIGN means to choose to cooperate with change and to adapt to it to ultimately benefit from it. How to do it? By following three steps: 

  • Deciding to be response-able
  • Embracing a growth mindset
  • Advancing by redesigning and loop learning


Whether we like it or not – change is inevitable. At this very moment, change is happening, affecting the way we live, work, and do business. Sometimes, change is small, almost invisible. Sometimes, it happens with a big bang. The latter holds true for the current health pandemic and its aftermath, which is challenging us, our healthcare systems, public institutions, as well as our global economy. 

It’s our natural tendency to – at least initially – resist change. Why? Because we are

  • afraid of the uncertainty that comes with it
  • concerned about our ability to cope with the new situation and the potential longer-term consequences which are often impossible to be fully foreseen initially 
  • wondering whether we have what it takes (meaning competencies and resources) to weather the storm, remain employed, or stay in business to care for ourselves and others.

In his book, ‘Principles,’ Ray Dalio writes: “Time is like a river that carries us forward into encounters with reality that require us to make decisions. We can’t stop our movement down this river, and we can’t avoid those encounters. We can only approach them in the best possible way.”

The question is – how do we constructively respond to these smaller and more significant changes? How can we approach them in the best possible way? 

We can resist the change and hope that we can RESTART BY DEFAULT once this crisis is over. That means to bet on the hope that we can just go back to the ‘old way of doing things’ and rely on our known habits, routines, procedures, and systems. 

But what if instead we NOW decide to opt for a RESET BY DESIGN?

RESETTING BY DESIGN means to choose to cooperate with change and to adapt to it to ultimately benefit from it. It means to take a careful look at our reality, anticipate what the future might bring and consciously choose how to respond. It means to prepare us so that we, our families, and businesses can GROW through the change and become even stronger.  

Here are three steps to engage in RESETTING BY DESIGN: 



Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl once said: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Changing ourselves means to change how we think, what we say and what we do. For Frankl, while facing the most inhumane condition in the concentration camps, changing himself meant to change his way of thinking. To realize that he has the freedom to choose how to respond to the circumstances imposed on him.  

For us, it means to become RESPONSE-ABLE. To realize that every new situation, every challenge or change ahead provides us with an opportunity to consciously choose how to respond. It’s an opportunity to follow a different path that leads us to better outcomes and more fulfilling results in our lives, relationships, careers, and business. 

Whether we like it or not, life is not just happening. It is designed by us and our responses to the events that are happening to and around us. Where are our choices taking us? Forward or backward? Are they causing us to stand still? Will our experiences limit us or lead us to grow? 

Being response-able means to be proactive and to take responsibility instead of reactively blaming circumstances and the environment. We might not be able to influence an event; however, by consciously choosing how to respond, we can have a tremendous impact on the ultimate outcome. 

So, if we can’t change the inevitable anyway, what if we embrace it as an opportunity to create something new and better – and to consciously decide to RESET BY DESIGN?

What if instead of trying to avoid, ignore, or endure the pain that comes with the change, we look at the pain, find the lesson, and make proactive changes?  

  • Changes in the way we are serving others … customers, communities, our families. 
  • Changes in the way we embrace innovation. 
  • Changes in the way we develop and educate our employees, students, and children
  • Changes in the way we treat nature and its resources.
  • Changes in the way we build and run our processes and systems.
  • Changes in the way we communicate with others.
  • Changes in the way we build and cherish our relationships.

If we don’t like the anticipated outcome – we should keep in mind that we have the opportunity to change our responses. NOW. Because whatever we did yesterday might no longer be sufficient to ensure tomorrow’s successes. 

Here are a couple of questions to guide you through this reflection:

  • What picture do I foresee if I think about the world in a few months from now? 
  • How will life, business, and the economy have evolved? 
  • What does it mean for my business, career, family, me?
  • What am I afraid of concerning this change?
  • How could I get prepared and respond to this change proactively?
  • What would I have to do to cooperate with this change?
  • What are the potential gains/losses from keeping things the way they are?
  • What are the potential gains/losses from proactively adapting to the change?


If we look at the most successful people and companies in the world today, many of them have stories of failures and setbacks to tell. Experiences that caused them to learn, adapt, grow, and start over again – before achieving the successes we know them for today. 

They had to grow through challenges to become stronger and to find their own success strategies. They had to embrace what renowned scientist and Stanford professor Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset. 

Having a growth mindset means to believe that we can cultivate our talents, strengths, and capabilities through conscious efforts, the right strategies as well as feedback. It means to believe that we can change and grow through application and experience. 

Instead of avoiding challenges or getting defensive to look smart, embracing a growth mindset means to search for challenges as an opportunity to grow, to persist in the face of setbacks and to see efforts as the path to mastery. It means to learn from criticism instead of trying to ignore useful but negative feedback and to find lessons and inspirations in the success of others. 

A growth mindset requires us to stretch ourselves and to push through even, or especially, when things are not going so well. It requires us to embrace being a novice again and to allow ourselves to learn, experiment, and fail forward to become better and tap into our potential. 

It means to replace the belief “I can’t do this” with the statement “I can’t do this YET – but I’m up for the challenge. Bring it on”. 

How can we develop a growth mindset? For example, by asking us the right questions:

  • What can I learn from this (setback, feedback)?
  • How will tackling this challenge make me stronger?
  • How can I start small and then evolve over time?
  • Even if I might not be able to do xxx YET – what might be the first step to take to get there?
  • How can I put progress over perfection?
  • What can I learn from the success of others? How can this inspire my actions?


In his book ‘Great at Work – How top performers to less, work better and achieve more’ Berkeley professor and management theorist Morten T. Hansen reveals seven scientifically proven secrets to great performance. These include ‘redesigning one’s work’ and ‘loop learning’. 

What’s interesting in the context of RESETTING BY DESIGN is that these ‘secrets’ not only lead to measurable performance improvements. They also help top performances to adapt successfully to disruption and navigate through change. 

To REDESIGN OUR WORK means to move away from the inside-out way of goal setting, tasks, and metrics and to instead focus on value creation. As Hansen writes, “people can achieve their goals and be very productive, yet produce zero value.”

According to Hansen, creating value means to generate an output that benefits other tremendously, and that is at the same done efficiently and with high quality. He offers us five paths to think about work redesign to create more value: 

  • Less fluff: eliminating existing activities of little value
  • More right stuff: increasing existing activities of high value
  • More ‘gee, whiz’: creating new activities of high value
  • Five start rating: improving the quality of existing stuff
  • Faster, cheaper: getting existing activities done more efficiently 

Which one of the paths could or should you be focusing on?

TO LOOP LEARN means that we focus on the quality of our learning rather than on the hours spend. It’s an approach to learning that we can follow while we are performing our daily work. It means to try out one small change, to measure the result, get informal but frequent, and fast feedback to then tweak the approach. It encourages us to engage in small but actionable steps and to focus on progress over perfection. This gets us going initially and helps us to become better much faster as we use the results and feedback to steer our direction. 

In which area of your life or work could loop-learning help you to advance further and become more effective?


Sabine is an Organizational Psychologist & Expert in Positive Psychology, Leadership & Personal Development.

It is her mission to empower leadership across all levels of an organization and to inspire & enable individuals to thrive at work & in life. 

+49 (0) 179 51 88 944

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© 2021 Sabine Renner