What ‘the new normal’ means for business

Paul

by Paul van Schie

What will the new normal look like?

Over the past weeks, many discussions have revolved around the state of society after the Corona crisis, something we have come to refer to as ‘the new normal’.

In the coming weeks, we will get a glimpse of what that new normal will look like. News about softening regulations around social distancing is said to be coming. We’re being notified about the reopening of the German Bundesliga, Belgians are allowed to visit friends and family from Sunday onwards, and last week the Dutch prime minister announced the first steps towards reversing our ‘intelligent lockdown’.

What does this mean for business? The massive collective response to the pandemic has led many to believe that our transition towards the era of stakeholder capitalism is accelerating.

With little exception, business news outlets and global consultancy agencies report on the incredibly hard assignment for business leaders to balance short and long term. And with equally little exception, they stress the importance of societal contribution and purpose as part of the new normal.

This purpose enthusiast weekly dives into how to navigate that new world. If you’re into purpose, you’ll like the second article for sure!

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Leading Out of Adversity

This BCG article goes in depth about five imperatives for leading out of adversity. Some brilliant quotes:

“While survival may be top of mind today, thriving is the long game. And this requires leaders to respond to a new environment, a new customer, and heightened societal expectations in order to lead the way out of adversity.”

“The crisis has created a need for companies and governments to demonstrate that their purpose and values are not just hollow words written in better times.”

“Business leaders need to create a collective narrative of hope and catalyze bold collective action if we are to look back at COVID-19 as an inflection point for collective progress, rather than as a squandered opportunity.”

 

Purpose: Shifting from why to how

In one of the most extensive articles on purpose execution of the big consultancy firms ever, McKinsey takes a look a the uncertain path of the corporate leader, who now more than ever needs to balance purpose and profit.

Seriously, if you’re looking to get a high level overview of what it means to lead a company from purpose, you will want to read this one. Also, we thought the storyline was ridiculously close to the core story in our ebook Purpose Powered by People.

Two of many nice quotes from the article:

  1. “[M]oney is just fuel for the rocket. What I really want to do is go somewhere.”
  2. “Decisions about purpose may be some of the more difficult decisions of your career. There will be a cacophony of opinions; adjudicating them will take discipline and conviction.”

 

Shift Your Organization from Panic to Purpose

HBR came up with this four step scenario, showcasing how purpose might provide stability to your people and forward momentum for your business.

According to HBR this points to an opportunity hidden within the current crisis: with widespread business disruption, brand purpose can find an opening. All of the urgent imperatives to keep communities safe, healthy, and employed will demand extraordinary measures on many fronts. Surely some elements of these imperatives will align your own brand purpose? There may never be a better time to activate in this way. For once, leaders can boldly let brand purpose drive business decisions.

“It may be weeks or months, but one day, a version of business as usual will re-emerge. By turning business panic into brand purpose now, we might rejoin a world which has paused to rediscover itself, and reframed its mission to press on to bolder and richer agendas.”