Planning for a New Normal


A month ago, when I cancelled my first trip because of this pandemic, I thought “this is probably an overreaction, but better safe than sorry; I’ll take this precaution and we’ll all get back to the regularly scheduled programming.”

Two weeks later, I was cancelling everything I’d planned through summer.

Now I fully understand: we will never go back to the regularly scheduled programming.

  • Many people have died and many more will. Everyone will know someone who got the virus.
  • In the midst of this suffering and dying, the priorities of many politicians were laid bare as they sparred with each other instead of uniting and leading.
  • In contrast, healthcare workers reminded us of what bravery, commitment and self-sacrifice looks like.
  • Almost everyone suffered economically—many people in ways that will have a profound lifelong impact.
  • Some communities suffered much greater than others as America’s gap between rich and poor was once again made undeniable.
  • The fragility of the international supply chain was revealed as we struggled to ramp up production of critical equipment.
  • Our homes became our islands, forcing many of us to learn new skills including teaching, cooking and video conferencing.

Perhaps most profoundly, we all experienced something together and simultaneously for a prolonged period of time. When’s the last time that happened in our fragmented, on-demand, 100% customizable world?

We can never simply go back to our branding and marketing plans from February 2020 because the people for whom those plans were made no longer exist.

So let’s make new plans.

Right now, as uncertainty still reigns, let’s work on asking the right questions…

  • How will we look at travel differently? Healthcare? Public gatherings like movie theaters and concerts? Cleaning and sterilization? Physical contact with strangers?
  • What new skills, values or revelations will we take out of quarantine with us?
  • What experiences will we savor with a new sense of appreciation?
  • Conversely, are there things we’ve learned to live without and we’ll never depend on them so heavily again?
  • How will we reevaluate our relationships with our employers and fellow colleagues? With other countries and economies? With our own government?

Whatever happens and whatever the answers, one thing’s for certain: we must make plans for a New Normal. So here’s a (virtual) toast to our post-pandemic personas and the new ways we’ll inspire them.