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The New Normal – So How?

“In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.” Albert Einstein

The Year of the Golden Rat has presented us with unusual challenges we have never seen before. Again. The last Rat, the Earth Rat, had given us Madoff, had wiped out Lehman Brothers and had brought us to the brink of bankruptcy. Whether you believe in the Zodiac or not, these are just facts.

So, what can possibly be good about the Rat Years? What did we learn?

A Lean principle says, that weaknesses in our organisations get only exposed when the fat is reduced. I.e, it is not difficult to run an organisation during fat times, times of prosperity. However, in lean times real leadership is needed. This year of hardship was and is a test for real leadership.

After Corona We Know Our Leaders

Observations about Leadership

I always thought that ladies make good leaders – after all, this is how our home is run :-). Seriously, which countries seem to be able to manage the impact of Corona well? The list that comes to my mind is quite short: Singapore, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea and Germany. Four out of five are run by women. Even now that these countries go through another rough patch, the difference is still apparent.

New Normal: Quality Time at Home

Frau Merkel and her government did a genius and pragmatic move during the first lockdown: they closed nearly every shop, but they left open the huge German DIY outlets. With controlled access to avoid crowds they made sure that the boys could buy what they needed to pass the time at home.

Believe me, Germans are into DIY. At the end of the first lockdown, my whole family had repaired, renovated, refreshed large parts of their houses.

My daughter and her hubby made sure they have a home office. Done. My son created another bedroom for his growing family. Done.

My sister renovated half the house. Done. My brother changed tiles in a few rooms. Done.

The objective? Apart from renewing Germany, this smart move kept the boys out of the kitchen – and busy.

Corona Teaches us to Save the Planet

The New Normal Helps Protecting Mother Earth.

Due to Corona and its impact, we have done a lot to protect our environment. Usually, we have more than 100,000 flights per day pumping 190 million litres of kerosin in the air. Every day.

That has drastically gone down. It hopefully will never go back to the pre-Corona level because we have learned that we actually do not need to fly in oder to do most of our jobs.

Since February, we have saved many trips downtown and back by conducting workshops, meetings, conferences and even family gatherings online. Sounds funny, right? It was at the beginning, it is a new normal. A good one.

We have conducted more than 70 workshop days online. Assuming that each workshop has at least 15 participants, this would result in a saving of more than 2000 trips for all participants to the event and back. This is a great saving for our wallet and for the environment.

On top of that, all of them together have saved at least 1000 non-value-added hours for transport. This could have been spent on work or with the family. We did both.

Corona Teaches us to Stay Fit

The New Normal Requires us to Change our Lifestyle. And, this is Great News, too.

It became quite obvious that sitting at home for days at on-line meetings was not good for our metabolism. After we recognised the first reservoirs building up around the hips, we decided to do something about it.

Our pre-corona programme of sports on Saturdays and Sundays due to commitments over the week was not enough any more. Fortunately, we got introduced to Yoga and fitness exercises by our friend Seema last year. With some guidance from her over video and some self-discipline, we did a fitness programme every morning even during the CB.

The newly gained time is used for sports with my wife, even now that CB is long gone. Now we do it in the park or in the water. Our usual morning walk is 10km or longer and brings us from our place to Bedok Reservour or East Coast and back. Sometimes, this is a run. Sometimes a swim.

We miss it if we don’t do something in the morning before we get our set A. This has become the new normal.

Corona Teaches us Change

And Prepares us for the Next Challenge. Is Change the New Normal?

There are thousands of workshops dealing with change management. It is one of the hardest things for us to do. Resisting change is human – programmed by nature, because change is dangerous.

However, it is very hearthening to see that we are indeed open to change and able to do this very fast if there is a pressing need. In 2020, some things have changed that we never considered possible:

  • Working from home is the new normal. Even Mr Micromanager has recognised its benefits.
  • Communicating electronically is the new normal. And our ISPs have done their part to enable it worldwide. The time of communicating via smoke signals is finally over.
  • We learnt about personal hygiene – not the first time – in a very effective way.

So, what can possibly be good about the Year of the Golden Rat?
It has taught us many valuable lessons like rethinking the way we live and work, appreciating a deeper understanding of good health and proper hygiene. And it will leave us prepared for the next challenges, the next Rat – if we do not fall back into our old modus operandi.

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Uwe H Kaufmann

Dr Uwe H Kaufmann is the founder of Centre for Organisational Effectiveness (COE Pte Ltd), a business advisory firm operating out of Singapore. As consultant and coach with many years of experience, his passion lies in supporting organisations to improve their effectiveness.
Uwe is a German national and Permanent Resident of Singapore. He has four children and nine grandchildren … and counting.

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