Let’s be clear…we will not be returning to “normal” when this crisis is over. In fact, every day has become a new normal, as the rules constantly change and as goals seem to move further away.
No, we will not be returning to normal…we will be, we are, evolving to a new standard. The winners, when the crisis is over, will be those who adapt, those who innovate and transform not to some new normal that becomes yet another stultified platform of best practices and conventional wisdom, but to something that is dynamic and constantly evolving, an enlightened platform for the novel world we will find ourselves in. As I have written before, quoting Dwight D. Eisenhower, “plans are useless, but planning is everything.”
Have we ever had so much proof of this? Imagine if we had been planning for a pandemic, as some had urged. Instead of a Coronavirus debacle where some bemoan the fact we had no plan (my view would be that plans would have been useless as the full impact could not have been known), but had we been planning for one…had we ordered enough masks, gowns, ventilators, and test kits, the plans we would be implementing would look way different than the despair, confusion, and sheer FUBAR that we see today.
So, ask yourself: where are you going to come out of this personally and in your professional lives? Are you falling for the rhetoric on one side or ignoring the opportunities on the other? Are you paying attention to “People First”—the way people are actually using technology? Are you recognizing the need to connect…the enablement of technology to do human things and have human interaction…that immersive experiences are as simple as sharing a glass of wine?
Are you paying attention to what virtual platforms and tools actually work? Are you noting how easy it is to have a conversation and be productive without physically transporting busloads of people? Are you paying attention to the instances when our remote tools fall short of your needs…when you require face-to-face interaction and people in the same room at the same table?
Do you have a new appreciation for those who power the “gig economy,” the people we have profited from to drive so-called “Disruption,” so that we wouldn’t feel guilty? People who are now without a safety net and have few choices? And yet, many people not of the gig economy are finding themselves in similar places right now as a result of this new disease.
Personal time with family and friends has never meant more—certainly not in my lifetime. How will that impact your work policy and schedule going forward?
How about what’s really important? What looked like a crisis yesterday kind of pales in comparison to the madness of today, no? Do the circumstances of today give us a new perspective on must have, good to have, nice to have and who really cares?
Looking back, we will be asking ourselves, “who behaved in what manner?” Who took advantage of hard times to be a better person and who did the opposite…who was helpful and who was harmful…who was pleasant and who was nasty? There will be a reckoning—not for reward and punishment, although that will happen—but for our future behavior environment, for company and personal culture.
We will have to rethink the very physical structure of our offices. WeWork thinking drove many of us to sit one on top of the other. Four feet of personal space seemed a luxury. Already, planners are suggesting at least six feet is necessary. How will that affect our seating plans at work? What about restaurants? Are you going to want to sit at a communal table? Will you be happy being seated mere inches from the next table, squished against the people sitting at your own? Are you okay trying on clothing in a store without knowing who else has tried it on first? This is just the beginning…
What about leaders? Are you starting to better understand the difference between leaders and rulers? Between leadership and power? Between leading by example or controlling by “what’s good for me?”
Last, and maybe the bottom line…trust. Trust has taken a huge hit. Politicians are blaming each other, pundits pontificate without facts, and the game changes minute by minute. Personally, my trust structure has crumbled…I don’t see you, I don’t know what you are doing or saying, and I have no real clue where I stand. Trust, internal and external, between people and institutions, between teams…between all of us…we need a reset.
This is just the start of the discussion you should be having with yourself, with your family, with your friends, and with your company. My greatest fear is that we return to “normal,” and glibly call it the “new normal.” My view is that those who do, will fall by the wayside. Listen:
“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity”— John F. Kennedy
And therein lies a warning and a lesson for us all. We are in grave danger if we simply revert to old ways after we make it through all of this, but if we evolve to face this new world with brave and enlightened thinking, the opportunities are endless.
We need to restart—and jumpstart—trust as a new beginning.
What do you think?