Quick quiz for everyone!
Raise your hand if you are tired of…
- Reading news stories about the pandemic
- Not being able to gather with friends and family the way you want to
- Hearing of the next new COVID-19 surge
- How the pandemic is impacting your ability to solve business challenges with your colleagues
- Discussing vaccine efficacy, reactions and inoculation rates
- Fighting anxiety or burnout about the impact of the pandemic on your life
I can guess that most of you raised your hand on at least four or five of those items.
Well, I’d like to announce that the new normal is here. There’s no need to wait for it any longer. For some of you, that’s good news. For others, you’re groaning.
Here’s the deal:
We face a protracted period of “not normal,” where everything we used to do and the way we used to do it has changed. And while many of us have pivoted, developed greater resilience, adjusted our approach to life and work, we are still looking for our new normal, a new routine into which we can settle. It’s possible that rather than passively wait or actively plan for that future state, we need to accept that the new normal is today, not tomorrow. That doesn’t mean that things won’t change. I sincerely hope they do. It does mean that we learn to manage our expectations so that we can minimize anxiety about where we are, as we accept that our future will be predictably unpredictable.
And the pandemic is only one of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous forces we are experiencing. There’s also climate change, raw material shortages, cooperation/collaboration/competition/conflict between world powers, social unrest, political infighting, cyber security. Just to name a few.
Your control or influence
Many of our frustrations today are related to a heightened awareness of how little we really control in our environment. Supplies, materials, processes and systems, venues and resources were readily available, so we managed our personal lives and business plans around the ability to access them when we wanted them.
We face the reality that we merely influenced the supply-demand economy until factors beyond our control reduced their availability. One example is how the shortage of semi-conductor chips forced manufacturing plants into temporary shutdowns and negatively impacted employment and profits.
Risk and reevaluating the new normal
We are now learning how to identify and manage risks differently due to several factors.
- Insufficient or unreliable data to forecast conclusions
- Inability to rely on precedence as a guide, because of the new situations
- Several potentially negative consequences that constrain our choices
- Multiple threats intersecting one another
- Multiple external and internal pressures to drive to certain outcomes
These challenges are arising at an individual, group and organizational level, and our expectations for their impact must shift as well.
As individuals, this is an opportunity to reevaluate our vision and purpose in life. We can ensure that our behaviors and choices align with our values. Now that the new normal is here, we should clarify what is most important for us to accomplish and determine how we want to contribute to the health, wealth, and wellbeing of others.
As leaders, this is an opportunity to review our organization’s vision and strategies to ensure they are comprehensive for the world we now live in. Are decisions made based on processes, systems and cultural norms that we need to let go of? The most obvious one is when the decades-long debate employers had about permitting employees to work remotely was suddenly upended by the pandemic. And how are we working for the greater good of our customers, employees, stakeholders, and suppliers? This means considering the needs of others, sharing technology, information and resources.
Recognize that the way we did things in the past won’t always work in the present. Instead of viewing these challenges as a barrier, embrace them as steppingstones to defining a new future.
Today is the new normal. How are you adapting to move forward?
Want to learn more about COVID pivoting? Learn how these entrepreneurs transitioned to e-commerce during the pandemic.