Updated: Oct 10, 2022
The Labor Day holiday in the US marks summer's symbolic end and a push to meet or exceed annual business targets in the remaining four months of the year.
Many of the executives I advise set their return to the office timeline to coincide with Labor Day. They see a natural symmetry in the transition from summer to fall. There’s a new rhythm and pace as students return to school, workers return to the office, and the seasons change. It's "normal".
On a recent episode of the Strategy & Leadership podcast, Anthony Taylor and I explored making your strategy work as you navigate new work norms and expectations resulting from significant, systemic shifts. In particular, we talked about the oft-spoken desire to return to normal - particularly at work.
Yet, is achieving “normal” sufficient – or even helpful - to meet objectives?
Early in the pandemic shutdown of 2020-2021, I asserted there was no such thing as a new normal. Further, as I shared with Anthony in this short video clip, focusing on return is a missed opportunity.
Return is about going back. By definition, going backward precludes moving forward. And it costs us the chance to learn from the experience.
Instead of simply returning to a way of working, thinking, or being, consider where you're heading (your destination or vision.) Then ask:
What is most helpful from the past to reignite?
What has lost its relevance?
What will serve you well and accelerate performance for the future?
The world has shifted, irrevocably. Making your strategy work requires future thinking.
Will you move forward or back?