Turning Points: The Transition to a New Normal

We are in unprecedented times with much of the world being shut down due to the COVID-19 virus. What is most shocking is how rapid and violent of a change our current situation is from only a few month ago. In the U.S. we had a roaring stock market, record low unemployment, a renegotiated USMCA trade deal, a very mild thawing in the tariff battle with China, and a view toward the pivotal 2020 presidential election. Now, in only three months, that has changed to a stunning loss of life globally, massive unemployment & work stoppage, a global economy in recession, halted travel, an incredible feeling of uncertainty and distancing and isolation on a grand scale. We are in a historical turning point.

Turning points are decisive changes in a situation that lead to a new reality. We have seen them occur in the economy (1987 & 2008 stock market crashes) and during geopolitical situations, with some examples below:

In each of the instances above, there was a “pre” and “post” time period surrounding the turning point, and after the event, a new normal was established. We are in the turning point right now, and as we come out of it, we will also establish a new normal. McKinsey covers the five stages of a new normal in the attached article link. The five stages, in summary, are:

  1. Resolve. Where we are today, with crisis management & actions in full motion across a wide spectrum.
  2. Resilience. Where we will be in the very near term, with heightened uncertainty about family, health, jobs, economy and stability.
  3. Return. Getting personal lives and commerce back to running will be slow, and an honest assessment of the impact will be mandatory. Leaders have to find a balance between optimism & realism, between empathy & strategic focus.
  4. Re-imagination. Choices will have to be made, including some potentially massive changes in systems and business models. Areas like e-commerce will take on greater importance and holistic reviews of supply chains will become a #1 priority.
  5. Reform. From how we work, to how we educate, to how we contingency plan and source, to how we legislate, this is the stage where real change takes action.

“Change is inevitable; growth is optional.”

John C. Maxwell

Each turning point offers a window of opportunity to ponder & reflect on how we got into this situation and what we will do differently in the new normal. As a leader who has successfully managed through business & environmental storms, I have learned, grown and improved professionally and personally after each storm. The only thing you know is you and your business will be different in the new normal. Whether it’s better is up to you, the insights you gain and the actions you take to reform your business & organization.