THE "NEW NORMAL" A
MILESTONE OR A PROCESS?
By: Miguel Galván
Published in Forbes Colombia: Click here
Consciously or unconsciously, the human being looks for a milestone that will defines his or her inflection point, the turning point from one phase to the next one. In this crisis convergence (sanitary, economic, social), it has not been the exception and there is even much talk of the new normal as a turning point; a moment in the road where “everything will be in a new way” and our socioeconomical systems will align to this “new way”.
Transiting to this “new normal” (whatever this means), Will it be getting to a milestone or will it be going through a process?
It is not hard to accept like a logical answer the fact that it is like a process, not a milestone. However, the intention, beyond making a question that might be evident, is thinking that what logically is a process, we might be unconsciously waiting for it, as a milestone.
Think for a moment. Let’s talk about the sanitary crisis first: even though today a vaccine becomes approved internationally, many new questions come to our minds such as when, how and to whom is this vaccine being administered; there will be decisions taken little by little about the changes in the rules of mobility, labor, academics, recreative spaces, among so many others. Therefore, the transit to the “new sanitary normal” won’t be a milestone called vaccine.
If we refer to another dimension of the convergence of crisis, the social one, we will find a similar scenario; if today a greenlight was given for attending to jobs or studying centers, the new normal will not come with it. People will attend having risks, not everyone would feel comfortable, companies would be required to provide security, schools would suffer lawsuits if the children got infected, protocols for staggered additions would need to be established (as it is already happening), as well as hybrid models for attending, job positions that change, among others. Therefore, the transit towards the “new normal at work” won’t be a milestone called opening of working centers.
So, there is really no milestone, there’s a process. And so there is in the economic and the rest of the social dimensions of this union of crisis; not to mention the accelerated impact of the technological disruption.
So, if transiting to the “new normal” is not a milestone, but a process, the important question now is, how is this process?
Clearly this is a question that needs a rigorous observation over time. In BTConsortium, we have carried this observation for some time now and we are convinced that, as companies are social entities that behave within a macrosystem called society, country, region, etc., each entity goes through a different process; however, in this journey there is a common denominator: the process of change in the people.
We have carried out this conversation with different members of the BTConsortium community and, for the moment, we have found some common stages about how the company leaders are transiting into these changing processes: how they are transiting to this new normal. It is important to mention that some of these stages were identified in retrospective, meaning, they were not intentional at the moment they were identified; however, in the reflection, they appeared as a fundamental part of the process. Due to our belief in the fluency of these changes, these findings are at the moment, but they are not excluded from being decanted as we move towards this “new normal”. We will see next these stages.
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Fatigue, grief and vulnerability
It is well known that 2020 has brought different challenges to different countries. However, the shadow of a global recession, the commercial and climate change wars, have been exerting widespread pressure for some time now. The impact that meant the Covid-19 crisis, was an impact that we resisted on that previous wear out. Even so, the impact of this crisis had no precedent for several reasons: it was the first time that the whole human race faced a common crisis (even in a greater scale than in the Second World War), it came at a time when our planet is more interconnected and interdependent than ever in history and at the moment of more acceleration and technological disruption ever seen. All of these, impact on a society where generations with huge different stories living side by side, generations that grew up with bulb televisions in their homes, to generations who are born with intelligent devices.
Keeping the companies in pace with all these changes has been highly stressful for the executives. Many of the executives we have spoken to, express relevant physical fatigue and “burn out” symptoms.
Added to the physical fatigue is the fact that, in most cases, in the close circles of partners and family, the pandemic has claimed victims to whom we haven’t been able to dedicate enough remedial grief, because the pandemic doesn’t stop. Finally, no one is exempt to the risks and impacts that all this convergence of crisis have meant. Leaders feel as vulnerable because of the disease itself, as for the time they have lost within their families, or for the future of their companies, their jobs, and their plans as individuals and families.
Recognizing this situation has required to stop the frenzy: to think, to reflect, to discern. We have seen several processes, each one with its own practice, but with the common denominator of stopping, thinking, re-thinking, thinking with an intention, with stringency, with a method.
In this stage of thinking, to share grief not only of people, but for everything that has changed, everything that “died with the old normal”. To let go, to rest and nourish the body and spirit. To look back in the past with gratitude, to hold on to the present, and to look with optimism to the future.
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The creation of new skills
After thinking, reflecting, and discerning come learning and preparation.
The learning part:
What does this crisis leave us?
What did we discover?
What shouldn’t we repeat?
What do we need to reinforce?
What should I be thankful for and treasured?
Learning to which must takes its time, allow it to decant, both as an individual and as an organization. From this learning, it must come a preparation for a new normal which is fluid, that requires new skills. These skills will vary greatly among those that we, as a Company, as a Community or as a Country, must develop.
Among them, one that is very important stands out and is common to all ages, all industries, all countries: to learn to transform, to learn to learn, to learn to change. Having the ability to continually adjust the course, define the skills needed, develop the management capacity or habits to make them sustainable and to ensure consistency in the day-to-day actions.
From this thinking process also comes the conviction to live with change. We insist: the technological disruption won’t stop, new sanitary risks will come, socio-political challenges are just around the corner, improvement efforts on climate change will increase, just like the impacts that we can’t change anymore, the macroeconomic changes will continue and so the rest of the macro tendencies.
Even with a “big reset”, as proposed by the World Economic Forum, the constant will still be the change. We have been adapting with a survival instinct, it is now time to move “to the new normal where we develop the conscious and intentional ability to transform ourselves continuously”.
To transform ourselves to build on our best essence and to become better for us, for the society and for the ecosystem.
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The responsibility for the ecosystem
Finally, maybe one of the best legacies of this crisis, is the fact that we all have a common issue. The ones who decided to learn, saw interdependence very clear. The fact that moving on, in a lot of cases required changing the paradigms about “competing at all cost” and to fight for the highest possible profit. Many evolved to realize that, if the ecosystem is not healthy, the sustainability over time for our business model is committed. Solidarity Leadership 5.0 (BTConsortium) emerged as the characteristic of the most successful leaders for their shareholders, collaborators, families and communities; were the catalysts from work and effort together, from win-win solutions, from solutions were the short-term price meant long-term earnings for the ecosystem together.
In our companies and our communities, it is not possible to wait for the new normal. The new normal is not a coming milestone, it is a process we are long overdue for.
The new normal is not a show that we see from our seats, it is a real dynamic where the leader is the author as well as the main character.
The new normal is interdependent, it is fluid and we are all in it together.
Finally, to conclude that the new normal is indeed a process, that needed a milestone called Covid-19 for us to realize it.
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