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Thinking ahead for a New Normal

How can you turn your time confined to home during the COVID-19 lockdown to your advantage? Dr Mark Pegg shares his tips on how to structure your thought process to help you find your place in a new normal.

See opportunity in every threat, never waste a good crisis. How can you turn your time confined to home during the COVID-19 lockdown to your advantage?  Is this the opportunity to devote serious time to deeper thinking about your personal strategy? History shows how hard times drive genuine creativity and innovation. Is this the time for calm, quiet reflection on better ways to accelerate change in your life? It may inspire you and help find your place in a new normal.

As a tutor in a Business School, one of my teaching favourites if attention flags is to tell my students they’ve been suddenly gifted 2 extra free working days (not extra leave) – no other work, no family, no diary commitments, no mobile phone - to do ONE thing which will have a major positive effect on their results in the future.  What would you do? My class love this exercise, it provokes lively debate and generates great ideas, but they tend to see it as a bit of fun, a little luxury, rather utopian, perhaps they are not too motivated to go back and do anything about it.  Today it may be a necessity to make changes: your back is against the wall; we can be sure the future will be very different. 

Even with a busy family life, great uncertainty on when or how we will be released from lockdown or what a new normal will look like, we can all find ways to carve out thinking time in lockdown. It can be a genuinely therapeutic process too – enjoy thinking through the options.  Start on your own principles, what your needs will be, review your options, challenge yourself - what could you do and (most importantly) what will you be willing to do differently? Although this is aimed at how you earn your living, it may also apply to how you live your personal life too. Consider generating your own set of critical success factors: the things you will need to get you back on your feet and come out fighting.

My ten tips for structuring your thinking are:

  1. Relationships, relationships, relationships – you have so many online communication tools available - hold on to what you’ve got in a crisis: people will not forget the care and attention you give them even if no transactions can take place.
  2. Sustain a strong mental map - be ready and able to spring into action – build-in planning for a surge capability for when the time is right, currently it is uncertain but likely to be gradual and phased sector by sector – it would be wrong to plan in too much detail, but have your principles, scenarios and options ready.
  3. Predicting the future will be very different – maintain a future search of the trends for a new normal, expect to see people valuing those that have added social as well as economic value during and after the crisis.
  4. Track the winners - it may be invidious to talk of winners and losers when lives are being lost and others devastated, but the brutal truth is some sectors have done very well in this crisis and will have cash to spend and invest.
  5. Recognise some are losers – it is tough, but many businesses have been hit very hard, some but not all will spring back, it will be a very hard journey but they will still want to spend some of their limited cash – you can be sure they will definitely want greater value for money.
  6. Use the downtime to rethink your offer – it is a wonderful time to refresh for the new, innovative and creative versions rather than simply replicate what was before – people in recovery will look take comfort in the old, but also look for the fresh and new: ask if can you meet a strong desire for health and wellbeing after the shock of the pandemic?
  7. Practice makes perfect – use lockdown to train and develop your skills – there are so many resources at the touch of keyboard, don’t get rusty, up your standards, delight people with your attention to quality – aim high, aim for world class in all you do.
  8. Recognise some trends will be accelerated – are there new opportunities for you where the crisis has favoured those providing big data; intelligent machines; smarter production; virtual reality; artificial intelligence; online retail; social media and communications; growth in green industries …
  9. And some trends will be reversed – some business sectors will take years to recover and those that can do this successfully will recognise that people have reframed their personal risk appetite, will seek more resilience in their supply chains, in their leisure and travel, in their consumption patterns and make provision for alternatives: is there a gap for you?
  10. Maintain your core values – this is a challenging time, but you can raise your own spirits, refresh and raise your game without ever sacrificing your own values or integrity. The people you deal with will value you more if you come back re-energised, having raised your game to inspire them and meet their needs so much better in a new world order.

If you're interested in reading more articles by Dr Pegg, please take a look at his blogs on how to support members transitioning into retirement and demystify the preconceived perceptions of each generation.

Author: Dr Mark Pegg, Director, Chalfont Associates

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