I was going to start with the cliché “a new normal,” but as I have gone through my work over the last four weeks, this new normal is not a cliché, it is the way of things to come. I wrote on March 12th about living through this Black Swan event and now I believe that we will be reinventing work as we know it. The good news is that many businesses are open for business, but it is just different. My heart goes out to those affected in our services sectors who have lost their jobs and/or been furloughed. Being in the IT consulting space, we have figured out how to deliver all of our services remotely without interrupting our client’s projects.
Different. It’s like the beginning of a motivational speech where the speaker asks you to fold your hands together in your lap, and then asks you to put the thumb that you have naturally on top on the bottom instead. They ask, “how does that feel?” Different. Not bad or good, just different. Well, that’s probably not true. It feels bad because it is different.
If we are going to fight through this virus as a society, we are going to have to do so differently. The key phrase here is “as a society” because nobody is immune to the effects of this virus, no matter where you are in the world. I am fortunate to work in an industry where we can work, deliver value and get paid for doing it. Many other sectors of the economy cannot and as a society we can’t randomly have winners and losers. We must band together and help one another.
I have news for you. The government will not save us. We will have to do it together differently. So, what does that mean? It means we will be inconvenienced to say the least. Shelter in place is awesome for our introverted friends, but as an extrovert, some days I feel like a character in The Far Side comics. “After 23 uneventful years at the zoo’s snake house, curator Ernie Schwartz has a cumulative attack of the willies.” As we all face our greatest fears, we will need to stay open for business. Business equals life.
The economy is created when there is commerce. When commerce is created, people exchange marginal utility for money. When people have money, they spend and the virtuous cycle continues. Throwing money at the problem will not create commerce, it will only temporarily stop the pain.
We will have to create commerce with new ideas and innovation that is different. Foodservice will have to perfect made-to-order and delivery services. Grocery stores will need to expand pickup and delivery. Products made for exercise at home will need to be connected to a network – Peloton just got lucky! We will have new boundaries for social interaction: concerts, bars, restaurants and festivals will need to be creative about being creative. They say “necessity is the mother of invention,” but my favorite is “frustration is the father of progress.”
Different is the new normal. Spend some time this weekend looking out the window and create a new solution to an unknown problem. We’ve done it before and we can do it again!
The human spirit is open for business! Let’s celebrate different.