The New Normal: Will you take the initiative and prepare for the unthinkable?

The New Normal: Will you take the initiative and prepare for the unthinkable?

They say people don’t like change.

That may be true, but our world has changed in unimaginable ways in a short space of time. Impacts have been felt at global, country, company, household and individual levels. From the impact on human health and the economy to the way we work, shop, or socialise – we now have the challenge of adapting quickly to different ways of living and working. A New Normal. Which may, of course, change again!

As the early responses to the virus showed us, waiting to see what happens isn’t a good strategy. Nor is coming up with a rigid plan, that takes forever to socialise and sign off, let alone implement.

Whatever your industry, department heads and HR leaders are now tasked with building a ‘New Normal’ that is flexible enough to continually adapt, help their businesses survive and keep its people safe. But what should that new normal look like? And how do you go about designing and implementing it?

There is only one thing that’s certain – the new normal will not be static. Whatever blend of old and new practices you are looking to combine and leverage, your new model will need to enable ongoing change. So as well as thinking about what you will change to protect your customers, employees and revenues, you also need to re-think your future approach for managing change. The days of static change plans are dead.

The key questions we need to ask ourselves about our new normal plans are:

  1. How are we thinking about the long-term impacts on ways of living and working for our people? What does this mean for our business goals and strategy?
  2. What are the different options for future working? What new technology do we need? How will we manage increasing demand for flexibility? What does this mean for developing and maintaining our culture and values?
  3. How will we manage productivity and performance in a virtual world? How will we manage talent and recruitment in future? What do we need to support good health including mental health?
  4. How are we going to manage change in future? As the New Normal is not going to be a static model, how will we absorb future uncertainty and rapidly build lessons learned into our operating model?

This last question is easy to ask but harder to answer. Yet I believe it’s the most critical to every business’ success.

One way to answer it is to learn from what we achieved – and how we achieved it – in the last 6 months.

  • There was a clear external driver and clear deadline
  • Everyone could see the benefits and was invested in making it work
  • People put the greater good above their own goals
  • No one expected it to be perfect
  • People accepted and adopted new technology to help them
  • People’s real lives (not just their work-lives) were given importance
  • Everyone expected things to keep changing

I believe there’s much we can learn from this as we build a more flexible new normal. With people at its heart.

George Tomlin is a Principal Consultant at i-Realise; The Business Readiness People. With 20 years’ experience leading change programmes, George helps organisations de-risk the implementation of new operating models.

George will be hosting a webinar on building more flexible new normal plans on Tuesday 8th September and you can register here.

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