It’s the new buzzword of the economic non-recovery — the title of news articles, conferences, thought leadership digests and more.
How are we going to operate as a company…a country….or a family in the new economic environment? It’s a universal mission and focus. Things have changed drastically, that’s for sure. But is everything really normal?
Normal connotes something familiar, perhaps bordering on boring. It’s a plus – an area of comfort — for stay-the-course folks.
Normal means you know how to operate in a routine environment with expected results. Plain old meat and potatoes. Go to work. Get a paycheck. Come home. Unwind. Go back to work. For nearly 15 million million Americans out of work — and probably a similar amount struggling and uncounted in small businesses and commission-only roles — this kind of normal would feel absolutely Utopian!
In normal times, normal is typically not exciting for pioneers, inventors and change agents who thrive on disruptive opportunities. But a certain level of certainly is required to win the capital necessary to start, grow and scale a business. A certain level of certainty is required to target customers, forecast sales, buy equipment/supplies, recruit and reward talent — just the business basics.
Normal is getting into a car, turning the key and moving forward to the destination. The new normal is getting into a car, turning the key, hearing weird grinding noises, then nothing, then click, click, nothing, quiet. The car is dead. We hope it will start again…but when?
There are some glimmers of hope: Continuity in the Oil & Gas sector; SEO and others who support web-based commerce; mobile apps; some uptick in consumer spending; massive stockpiles of corporate cash for potential M&A; activity; some orders trickling into the pipeline in manufacturing.
But not anything that feels like normal.
There are millions of smart and diligent people in transition working feverishly to shoehorn themselves into an elusive next job — when maybe they should be looking for a new career or a different path to revenue. Millions of consultants, corporate managers and business owners proposing on new business opportunities awaiting purchase decisions that never come. Many medical/dental practices operating at 40% of capacity.
A former colleague is getting ready for career re-entry after having after having three children in the last ten years. Another is returning to her law practice after fighting and beating a terrible illness. Both are concerned about being out of the loop and re-gaining perceived lost ground due to their absence. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss a thing, I told them both. That’s the new normal.
How are people coping?
Some who have survived the corporate cuts are hiding out and enjoying a respite. They have no budget for new programs. They take their BlackBerries and duck out for school recitals and sports events. They get to spend more time with their children.
Others are waiting in the weeds, plotting their departure the minute a new opportunity arises. So much for ”employee engagement.”
The knowledge gurus are doing a brisk business — churning out best-selling books, corporate coaching gigs, change management seminars and tele-conferences. They offer hope, processes and a path to something better.
Here are some other ideas:
- Cherish what you have
- Dote on family and friends
- Eat healthier
- Keep up with your customers and business contacts
- Add new connections
- Learn social media
- Help others
- Do something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had time
- Plant some seeds for a new career path or customer set
March 24, 2011