No matter how you cut it, things are not normal right now.
If you don’t believe me, just ask our dog, Miles.
Like a 70’s personal ad, Miles used to enjoy the feeling of sunshine on his face, relaxing in the park on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and leisurely strolls along the Hudson.
Today, his outside time is limited to several quick visits to relieve himself throughout the day and one semi-long walk late at night where, if he’s lucky, he might get to enjoy a bit of moonlight.
But a funny thing happened the other night.
As Miles and I were walking down Riverside Drive, we came across another dog and his owner walking the other way. But for some reason, rather than pulling on our respective leashes, bringing our dogs tightly next to us, and scurrying past each other as we’ve become accustomed to doing, we paused.
Masks appropriately placed on our faces and remaining a good 10 feet apart, we let our dogs share a few moments of sniffing and playtime.
While things may not be going back to normal — at least in so far as going back to the way things were — we are collectively starting to move forward again.
I won’t pretend that this brief encounter can pass as anything near normal. But as I walked away, I couldn’t escape the feeling that while things may not be going back to normal — at least insofar as going back to the way things were — that we are collectively starting to move forward again.
The Big Idea: The First Steps Forward
The pandemic’s hit to our system was swift and severe. And it is clear that we’re nowhere near the end of this.
Still, it seems that the shock is starting to wear off.
For most of the last six weeks, we’ve all been collectively hunkered down and just waiting things out. As it becomes evident that there is no simple pathway leading us back to where we began, however, we are beginning to recognize that we must, instead, move forward and find a way to some new kind of normal.
It may not be normal, but we are all normalizing.
The Impact: The Time to Lead is Now
As an enterprise leader, you must see this moment for what it is: a calling to serve.
Your team is starting to get over their shellshock and are groping in the darkness for some way forward. They need you to lead them through this process.
Your team needs you to help them find — or more accurately, create — the new normal.
Because as big and messy as this pandemic is, all of the real, hairy, and complex problems your organization was facing six weeks ago are still there, waiting to bubble back up to the surface.
Like everything and everyone else, they went into a temporary holding pattern, but the fundamental issues remain.
The reasons I started Your Digital Future — the impact of the transition from the Industrial Age to the Digital Era and what it will mean to you and your organization — are just as relevant now as they were in February. In fact, the risks are even more threatening, and the opportunities even greater.
We will come out of this. But it is becoming apparent that what we will find on the other end is not what we left behind, but something new.
And while this situation may lead to some significant changes in the way we work, function, and interact, the fundamental forces that existed pre-pandemic will still be creating a set of even more challenging situations for you and your team to tackle.
So perhaps even more so than just a few short months ago, you must answer this calling, help create the new normal for your organization, and get back to the hard work of finding your path forward into the Digital Era.
The Next Step: My Turn
Usually, this is where I give you an exercise or a next step — something that you must do to put what I’ve shared into action.
Today, however, the Next Step belongs to me — or maybe more accurately, to both of us.
For you to move on — to take the advice I’m dishing out so abundantly today — I’m going to have to take it first. So that’s what I’m going to do.
I’m not going to ignore what will continue to be happening around us. I won’t stop being in awe of the heroic efforts of our healthcare providers, grocery store workers, and delivery people. I won’t try to pretend that thousands of people aren’t still dying every day.
But I am going to get back to work on the still-very-real issues facing our organizations. I am going to get back to discussing the emerging trends disrupting organizations, the impacts they will have, and exploring the ways that you, as an enterprise leader, can respond.
The transition from the Industrial Age into the Digital Era will continue unabated. Nothing — not even a pandemic — is going to stop it from happening. In fact, it’s probably going to accelerate it.
So we must all persevere and do our best to find a pathway to return to a not-so-normal normal.
And, if you happen to pass Miles and me walking the streets of New York, pause briefly, make sure your mask is secure, and say hi.
Founder & Institute Fellow
Charles Araujo is a technology analyst and internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and Leadership in the Digital Era who advises technology companies and enterprise leaders on how to navigate the transition from the Industrial Age to the Digital Era. Having spent over thirty years in the technology industry, he has been researching Digital Transformation long before it became the uber-buzzword of today, and is now focused on helping Digital Era Leaders prepare themselves and their organizations as the macro trends of the primacy of the customer and the primacy of the algorithm collide, ushering us into what he calls The New Human Age.
Principal Analyst with Intellyx, founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation, author of three books, and most recently the co-founder (with his wife) of The MAPS Institute, he is a sought-after keynote speaker and has been quoted or published in CIO, Time, InformationWeek, CIO Insight, NetworkWorld, Computerworld, USA Today, and Forbes.