There are three thoughts on the topic of us being normal. The first thought is a portion of the naive concept of restarting the economy and returning to normal. In my just-released playbook, “Restarting The Economy: Guidance for Public and Private Leaders,” I explain that there is a huge difference between “restarting the economy” and relaxing government restrictions like the stay-at-home orders and closing of non-essential businesses. To successfully restart the economy, companies must first be restarted and each company’s plan to reopen will be unique. A lot of work will have to go into reopening companies, and it will not be done by simply flipping a switch.
The government must first relax their orders, then companies can begin restarting in phases, but even after all companies have reopened, things will still not return to normal. Social distancing, mandatory temperature taking, wearing masks, working from home and/or in alternating shifts, sporting events without spectators and consumers relaxing their personal stay-at-home orders could become the normal. Because of this, many have dismissed the initial thought of returning to normal, but rather look toward achieving a “new normal.”
A new normal implies a new state that will beget a steady state going forward. Unfortunately, due to ongoing VUCA—volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity—and the life-changing ramifications of COVID-19, there will never again be a steady state. Therefore, any hope for a new normal is wishful thinking. The reality is that for the rest of our lives, we will transition from one new normal state to the next, and therefore the correct concept is us transitioning to the “next normal.” This is where we reside until we transition to the next, next normal. So, let me wish you health, safety and a smooth transition to your next normal.