What If the New Normal Is Better?
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As the dust settles on the exhausting triage of our businesses, we start to, slowly at first, see a longer sightline. We’ve been operating on a short view — making decisions critical for the day, the week or at best, the upcoming quarter. How long will our cash last? When will we have to lay workers off? And maybe most importantly, what can we do to find new revenue today?
Soon we’ll have the luxury of looking a little further out. Instead of looking at today’s cash balance, we might forecast to the next quarter, or maybe even to the end of the year. Recovery will be the new word, and we all can’t wait to get back to normal.
But what if normal is a step backwards? Tremendous innovation has occurred over the past few weeks. Things have changed, launched and ground has been broken. Although there are elements of normal I crave, such as sleep and lower anxiety, I’m not sure normal is the right goal. In fact, new normal just might be better than old normal. Here are three areas in your organization that shouldn’t revert back to “good old days” thinking:
Last week I heard a CEO say that his team had a task force working the past three years to create a digital strategy; once this crisis took hold, they had it launched in just 10 days. New, exciting innovation is all around us. We’ve been forced to look for better, faster, cheaper and more relevant options. Take a look at what happened in your organization the past few weeks to allow that to happen. How do we fuel and foster and reward this innovation going forward? How many more new ideas, products and dollars are out there if you stay — at least mentally — in this era of innovation?
The usual task forces and approval processes have been suspended. “Write up a proposal and submit it for review” has been replaced with “Can that be live tomorrow?” Sure, there have been some missteps. Some of the copy might not have been fully proofed, or there were some things to iron out while also rolling out. But what did we learn? It wasn’t a catastrophe.
So many organizations operate under a fear of failure. But thinking through every possible scenario is an urgency killer. We don’t want to be reckless, but we can’t go back to business as usual. We have to keep the urgency that makes things happen. It will be critical to surviving the next year.
There is something about a crisis that pushes us back to our mission. We all want to help take care of each other and our customers. We feel a tremendous responsibility to do something. I fear this will be the first thing we lose as we return to normal. But it may be the most important. Your team will be hurting for a while. They’ve lost co-workers; their spouses are unemployed; they’ve been forced into isolation; and they will be plagued with the PTSD of uncertainty. Is my job secure? Will my company make it? Are we safe?
The only thing that will rebuild morale and trust is commitment — true and authentic commitment — to your mission. Show your team that your concern and responsibility wasn’t a fleeting, knee-jerk reaction but rather is a new responsibility that will lead the way.
That is a new normal that team members will want to support. They’ll work hard for it. They’ll be innovative, and they’ll adapt, perhaps even thrive, in a new urgency that gets things done. That is how we will recover better and stronger. And that is a new normal to celebrate.