This frequently cited “new normal” seems to be a term that can be quickly agreed upon… “New normal” is developing into a catch-all term that can be discussed for hours on end without having to agree on anything, because everyone understands something different by it anyway. It is so wonderfully general that no potential for conflict arises in the first place.

Our current observation: Many companies are searching. Searching for answers, but often first looking for the right questions to ask. And that’s a good approach, to look for the right questions first.

And looking for the “right” New Normal.

Is everything going to be stable again?

And sometimes the “New Normal” is just a symbol for the wish that everything will be stable again. Normal again, just new.

We think: No, stable was once upon a time. When every phase of change was followed by a phase of stability. That will probably never happen again.

New ideas are probably currently being developed in many small backyard garages, which in turn call just as many current business models into question and lead to disruptive changes.

If I, as a currently successful company, do not have the most capable people on board and have chosen an organizational form that enables me to react quickly and robustly to changes in the market, then it will be difficult.

Design opportunities?

So let’s not miss the opportunity to shape our own New Normal now. The crisis as an opportunity? Another much-used image with which you can’t even win at bullshit bingo anymore. Maybe it’s more the crisis as a wake-up call to finally question some things we assumed to be true and right. Here are just the examples of hierarchy, bureaucracy and budgets as examples (the whole list is long)

Do we need hierarchy, bureaucracy and budgets?

– The hierarchical system has stood the test of time since the invention of writing. In other words, it’s pretty old -(baking). Are there sensible alternatives? Sure, many companies experiment with other forms of organization, and are very successful with them.

– Bureaucratic structures are always created when you don’t want to keep reinventing the wheel in your organization. It makes perfect sense to deal with similar issues using similar processes and to benefit from the efficiency gains. However, if these regulations, processes and structures are not regularly mucked out and checked to see if they make sense, they will eventually pile up into monsters that only hinder.

– One of these regulations is budgeting. Of course, it makes sense for a company to keep its money together and to find a way to plan and control the flow of money. However, what is made of it in companies is abstruse. And many of those involved regularly grab their heads, but continue to play the game. “We lie into each other’s pockets, burn time with planning and coordination rounds, the results of which are obsolete again three months later at the latest,” a department head recently told us. “The main thing is that we play by the rules,” he added in frustration. This system continues to be practiced in this way because the belief that “the future can be planned” is still present in many companies. As if Covid19 or the current flood disaster in western Germany had not taught us otherwise.

Can it be done differently? Yes, of course it can be done differently. Literature links can be found below.

These are topics to which we will devote our own headings in further blog posts, because there are indeed companies that tick, are managed, are organized and function quite differently.

Successful in the future, no matter what the future holds?

The opportunity in designing your own “New Normal” is to make a company so future-proof that it will be successful no matter what the future looks like. And that’s becoming increasingly important in the ubiquitous “war for talent.”

The really good people will go to the companies where there are the most promising ideas and implementations for new organizational forms and where they can personally succeed, grow and learn. Home-office and mobile working will only be part of the solution.

Further ideas and links:

– Torsten Groth – 15 Theses on Post-Covid Time

– Humanocracy – Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them: Gary Hamil, Michele Zanini

– Beyond Budgeting – How Managers Can Break Free from the Annual Budgeting Trap – Jeremy Hope / Robin Fraser