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COVID-19 is a challenge for most businesses right now. It's natural to feel a bit discouraged.

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As business leaders it's important to consider when things might get back to normal. More importantly, we should ask:

Is it wise for a business strategy to depend on a "Return to Normal?"

I get asked this question all the time. So I've prepared an analysis and some ideas for you to consider, depending on your opinion about this controversial question.

As you contemplate your answer, you might also want to think about whether we SHOULD want a return to normal. I'll provide my opinion at the bottom of this page.

Does Your Business Strategy Depend On a "Return to Normal?"

Please choose your answer...


Not Sure...


You Believe Success
Depends on a "Return to Normal"

Well, at least you have well-defined and thought out strategy...that's a good thing! I appreciate your optimism and your situation might be very unique, so "getting back to normal" might be possible for you or your business. For the vast majority of businesses and people however, I don't see that as really an option. Why?

  • We are still experiencing a massive global health event, especially in the U.S.

  • The virus has mutated and questions remain as to whether it can ultimately be controlled by vaccines and behavior

  • The huge impact of the virus on the financial system pales in comparison to the toll that COVID-19 has taken on people's mental and emotional health. It has changed people for a lifetime, just as living through the Great Depression changed those that endured it.

  • Entire industries have been torn apart and re-assembled. New business models have been created, new inventions have been implemented, and expectations have been changed

  • People have become much more comfortable working from home and big companies have said employees can do that permanently.

  • Residential and commercial real estate trends and usage have likely changed forever.

  • These are just a few data points, I have many more if you are interested...

The result? Twenty (20) years of innovation have been compressed into less than one (1) year.

The world has changed so much that "getting back to normal" doesn't seem possible to me. We might experience a future that seems like it's normal and your current business model might still work. But it will really be a "new normal", and you'll almost certainly leave opportunities on the table if you don't recognize and embrace it as "new." You might also be exposing your business to terrible risk.

You're Not Sure What Your Business Success Requires

Like most of us, you are probably somewhat balanced in your awareness of how much things have changed, but possibly hoping for some miracle. I know I am. A new scientific discovery, a windfall in money, a way forward that doesn't cost us our human-ness? You also have noted the frequently misreported news about the world and you may even question how "real" the pandemic is. These are all understandable data points that along with others, may contribute to your indecision.

Of all of the strategy positions you could take however, this being unsure is the most risky. Why? Because you are not committing one way or the other. You are logical, and in the absence of real data to the contrary, you probably have a nagging doubt as to whether a return to normal is probable or even possible. This doubt allows you to think "we'll see" and probably eliminates some short-term stress. But it's also a concern, in that purposeful decisions about your business may be delayed because you've allowed your personal feelings to creep into a business conversation.

One sure-fire way to get off the fence is to study and understand HyperChange. It's the result of man-made and natural forces coming together in unpredictable ways. Some thing the COVID-19 was an accident. Some thing it is a result of man and nature coming too close because of population growth and deforestation. Still others think that the disease was created by bad actors. All are possible but demonstrate how regardless of the cause the resulting catastrophe was hardest on those organizations and people that were unprepared.

So now you know what I think! I favor a strategy that does NOT depend on returning to normal. I don't think it's likely and for many it's not even possible.

What is for certain, is that by abandoning the "old normal" as part of the justification for the new business strategy, a lot of blood, sweat and tears had to go into the new plan. That work is a fantastic investment not only in increasing the likelihood that your business will do well, it also makes you more nimble and that's awesome!

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