December 31, 2021

Stop Waiting, the New Normal Is Already Here

"Waiting for the new normal" is what I hear often in my discussions with business leaders. However, as we close out a year as the world deals with the Omicron variant of covid-19, the new normal seems elusive and distant. Or, perhaps, we are living in age of the new normal. As explained by The Economist, "The era of predictable unpredictability is not going away. In 2021 people have been yearning for something like stability. Even those who accepted that they would never get their old lives back hoped for a new normal. Yet as 2022 draws near, it is time to face the world's predictable unpredictability. The pattern for the rest of the 2020s is not the familiar routine of the pre-covid years, but the turmoil and bewilderment of the pandemic era. The new normal is already here."

Air travel, for example, forever changed as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2021. "In the years that followed each fresh plot exposed an unforeseen weakness that required a new rule," The Economist notes. "First came locked cockpit doors, more armed air marshals and bans on sharp objects. Later, suspicion fell on bottles of liquid, shoes and laptops. Flying did not return to normal, nor did it establish a new routine. Instead, everything was permanently up for revision."

What is more, "The world is similarly unpredictable today and the pandemic is part of the reason. For almost two years people have lived with shifting regimes of mask-wearing, tests, lockdowns, travel bans, vaccination certificates and other paperwork. As outbreaks of new cases and variants ebb and flow, so these regimes can also be expected to come and go. That is the price of living with a disease that has not yet settled into its endemic state."

"For much of humanity the new year is a time for reflection on the past, The Economist says in another article. "But many minds will also inevitably cast forward. If the fitful past two years of the covid-19 pandemic offer any lesson, it is that the future remains murky and uncertain."

The article, which contains the image below, adds, "Not to be deterred, we have turned to prediction markets to give us a glimpse of 2022. Pooling data from punters on exchanges like Betfair, Metaculus, PredictIt and Smarkets, can offer a theoretically better guide to the future than plunging headlong into the unknown. Will the pandemic claim millions more? Might Russia invade Ukraine? Could America's high inflation persist? And will Tom Brady win an obscene eighth Super Bowl? Another eventful year awaits."

A business' success is often determined by how it can quickly adapt to changing circumstance cause by natural disasters, health crises, or financial market volatility, just to name a few. Defined as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change, resilience is a word that must be in the lexicon of all business leaders. As explained in a post on this forum about an article published by Dr. Linton Wells II, an expert who focuses on links between policy, technology and decision-making, especially in building resilience and cybersecurity, "Resilient companies produce impressive results. They have shown positive earnings and sales growth during recessionary years, improved their corporate image by effective strategic responses to natural disasters, raised dividends for several consecutive decades, and won back market share against low cost and online competitors."

While it is ideal to have more certainty on what may take place in the future, this is simply not possible. Whether it is for our home, business, or community,, the best we can do is prepare for uncertainty. There are events we can prepare for as evident in a video entitled "The World Ahead 2022: five stories to watch out for," but we must also create plans to quickly adapt to those unforeseen events.

Recognizing that the new normal has arrived, we should be asking: How can we ensure future-readiness by preparing for disruptions, be it a pandemic, natural disaster, geopolitical crisis, or a volatile financial market?

What are your predictions for 2022?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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