Learning from Lockdown #3 – The Big Opportunity. Recently, I was sent a questionnaire by a contact on LinkedIn. His questions all had 5 answers, ranging from “I really want to get on with the new normal” (bear with me – I don’t like the concept of “new normal” and I will explain this later in this piece) to “I really want to get back to the old ways”. I was horrified, and contacted my contact to explore his motivation for including the option of wanting to return to the old ways of doing things.
His answer was simple. If he didn’t include this option, he would be presupposing the responses, which would skew the outcome. It made me think, though. Isn’t this, the end of the beginning – as Churchill might have said, just the time FOR presuppositions?
What do I mean by presuppositions? I mean this in the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) sense – asking questions assuming some change has already taken place. The Maverick mindset might easily fit into that – this nearly, post-lockdown period, offers a fantastic opportunity for exploring new and improved ways of doing things.
Why would you want to look backwards when all the excitement is yet to come?
I have no wish to criticise returning to well-tested methodologies. Each to their own – that’s the freedom mantra which allows us Mavericks to feel empowered, after all. However, after almost the biggest enforced social behavioural change in living memory, it surely would be a crying shame if we were to miss the opportunities that face us all?
Doing things differently because we had to, has opened up people’s minds to new things. Working from home can be fraught for some (or very, very welcome for Misanthropic Mavericks like me). However you feel about it, when organisations have made it work, harnessing new technologies to keep their products and services going, it’s made a lot of people reflect. Requests for flexible working are on the rise, as are new deployments of technology for things like Voice Over Internet Provision (VOIP) telecommunications which make working peripatetically easy and reliably productive.
Communities have come together, albeit at a tactically physical distance, to support the most vulnerable, and also those whose frontline support for the critically ill makes them vulnerable and time-poor themselves. Community organisation, civic action and purpose-driven leadership are all on show, to proven positive intent.
These are some pretty trite examples of the innovation that has arisen in my local area. There are many others: cheap 3D printing of protective equipment; use of social media to co-ordinate response campaigns which are international, crossing borders through communications rather than in person. The increased awareness of mental well-being and its importance to everyone. What our children actually do at school and how easy or hard it is for them – and us as parents – to make learning fun, engaging and successful when at home and away from their friends. The importance of physical contact (handshaking through to intimacy) among humans …. The list goes on.
Pick any of these, and it’s likely something would shift in a locality, or perhaps an industry. However, using the Maverick strength of looking round the corners of a problem, if we start to aggregate all the innovations, we start to appreciate how doing things differently could be a global gamechanger for commercial markets, cultural norms and for all of us as individual humans.
And here, we Mavericks have a crucial role to play (and we need to be ready to play that role, even before we’re asked). Our ability to look at things differently, to challenge norms and question rationales puts us at the forefront of cultural change agents. So let’s get involved, forming alliances and collaborating across physical boundaries like distancing – or even oceans – to build change which spans whole countries, continents … hell, why not the whole world?!
And this is where I get to the explanation to which I alluded in the opening paragraph. I recently came across a piece by Sonya Renée Taylor. To paraphrase (and I urge you to read the entire piece), she suggests that there is no “normal” that we should refer to, because the “normal” that we would return to involved normalising “greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion …”. I would argue that we Mavericks have not only the opportunity, but actually the responsibility to play a leading part in creating a new now, rather than a new normal.
The big opportunity …
It sits with us, to offer our thinking and attitudinal skills to leaders near and far, so that we can help to “stitch a new garment, one that fits all of humanity and nature”, as Taylor suggests. I’m up for shaping that new now. Are you with me?
You can read Lessons from the lockdown #1 and #2 below.