How do we prepare for the New Normal?

In my last Newsletter, I shared some insights, observations and reflections derived from my daily talks with international leaders (in these last months, Dealing with Uncertainty is on the daily menu)

You may remember that I mentioned 3 learnings (around Trust, Resilience and Social Values); I also pointed at 3 challenges that we are and will increasingly be facing; Decision Making and Risk Management in Uncertainty as well as tackling (Designing Policies to reduce) the Social Inequality that this pandemic has made more evident than ever.

If you wish to contribute to a discussion on these themes, please join me on Wednesday, May 27, at 4:00 pm CET.
It will be a 60 min. virtual workshop. If you have not already registered, please do so using the Button above.

But let me add one more provocative thought, here, to further stimulate the discussion around the Challenges, especially about Decision Making and Risk Management.

I believe that under the 3 challenges there is a common underlying issue, quite frequent especially in the Western world: we seem to hold on to the the illusion that we can rationally simplify everything and impose a “one-size fits all” approach (to Decision Making, Risk Management and Policy Design). I call it a Rationality Bias.

But the pandemic has highlighted how much we are interrelated and how much ambiguity we create with the great diversity of our subjective ideas. We no longer live in a world made of separated “tribes” where individuals can be made to conform for the greater good under high supervision. We are a worldwide living system that we cannot expect will ever be able to properly function within rigid top down hierarchical systems. Living systems (e.g. human brains, any ecosystems and our biosphere) are not organised in a simple hierarchy, they are organised as flexible systems of collaborative networks that constantly learn, evolve and re-aggregate, creating what might appear as chaos. We need to transition to be able to live and thrive in chaos.

Personally, I believe that the New Normal will see interconnected organisations, each with a Dynamic Equilibrium and each with decentralised networks or Teams of Leaders, skilled in Participatory Decision making, able to create Accountable and Actionable Alignments through a systemic approach with high tolerance for uncertainty. From an Organisational Science standpoint, this is to say that we will never be the same again (we shall not “return to normality”), but will use (dissipate) energy to continuously reach an equilibrium or a certain temporary order, while increasing the total entropy. (Second law of thermodynamics applied to living organisms). We need new leadership skills to learn to do this.

As a reference, we can think of Chaos Theory. I have taken the classical model (fig. 1) and applied it to our current situation (fig. 2)

We will need to prepare by training in the skills that will allow to be effective in the purple part of the above diagram (the pink one can only be effectively applied to things and processes, lie intelligent robots)

(Note: There are a few emerging leadership consultancies that offer guidance in this area; several universities, like Harvard Business School, have hinted at how we are outside of the normal reference charts and need to find new approaches, but then when it comes to practical solutions they seem to constantly re-brand their standard courses. Within Grooa, we have been pursuing this new approach, that we call DELTA, and the required shared-leadership skills are part of our signature CLEAR Mindset training).

I look forward to talking with you!

Lead with a smile!

Laura Lozza
Managing Partner, Grooa