The Next Normal


FountainBlue’s December 4 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘The Next Normal’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 

  • 2020 – A Story for the Ages – Debbie Shotwell
  • Collaborating to Create An Agile and Resilient Supply Chain – Amanda York, Lam Research
  • Optimizing Operations and Facilities – Aaron Campbell, OhmniLabs
  • Rethinking Business Strategies and Business Models – Krista Pavlakos, Renesas 
  • Embracing a Decentralized Workforce – Louise Lamb, Coupa Software
  • Predictions for the Next Normal and How to Prepare for It – (everyone choose ONE)

We launched the discussion by talking about the social, political, economic, and cultural impact of everything that has transpired and its impact on the people, the companies and even the industries impacted by the changes. All speakers agreed that this is not just a moment in time, but a seismic shift in the way we work and live.

  • We will never look at viruses and germs in the same way. Whereas before we might have pushed through and work as warriors when we are sick, we now would rather not infect others and take the time to stay home, responding digitally, or just stay home for self care.
  • We will be more agile, more labile with the way we manage our business and technology processes, the way we manage our relationships and our people. An iterative approach to managing would make us more effective as leaders and managers.
  • We will all be more strategic with our business strategies and business models – not just more agile, but also more creative, more resourceful, more resilient, and more collaborative.

Below are some best practices shared by our panelists.

  • Leveraging digital technology to deliver customized services has helped small companies get big, big companies get bigger, and everyone get more customized services more quickly. Indeed, the events of 2020 have greatly accelerated the adoption of the digital experience at all levels.
    • To build more digital dexterity, innovate your technology, respect the speed of innovation and provide real-time support.
  • Strategically coordinate between internal and external teams to proactively manage and lead through change.
    • Manage the rhythm and cadence of communication and change.
    • Align the various ecosystems of stakeholders.
    • Ensure accountability and clear communication on measured outcomes.
  • Partnerships with customers and vendors, partnerships across teams and organizations will help develop win-wins when the game changes in unexpected ways, through this and future pandemics and their associated other disruptive challenges.
  • To build employee involvement and engagement through times of great change, provide transparent, proactive communication and updates, challenge them to participate in strategy and execution and innovation challenges, where relevant, make them feel valued, and provide opportunities to learn and have fun.
  • To stay relevant during these extraordinary circumstances, you could Outwit others, or Outplay others, but more important than that is the ability to Outlast others – the resiliency and ability to pivot are key.
  • Measuring important data will help us to focus on managing the impact of a pandemic (or just about anything) on our people, our processes, our operations.
  • With every challenge comes an innovation opportunity. Leveraging collaborations will lead to more original innovations. Finding niche opportunities and adjacent markets may be a silver lining through this period of great change.

The bottom line is that we will all be more cognizant of our impact on people, on what matters to us most, and be more humane, more human as we now better understand what’s important.



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