After enduring what has felt like an eternity of Level-whatever lockdowns, the banning of the sale of tobacco and alcohol, PPE procurement scandals etc etc - there is finally some light at the end of the lockdown tunnel.
We're not totally out of the woods as yet, but there certainly is more of a sense of optimism around; and business is finally starting to grind its way back into existence.
But now what?
What happened to all of those post-pandemic 'life will never be the same again'-forecasts that every blue-chip consulting firm were handing out like Smarties at the beginning of this thing?
Cigarettes are still being sold at the kiosk at Checkers, booze is still available at the same bottle store as it was before lockdown, taxis are still full, roads are filling up again and the bank now wants all of the 'payment holidays' that you so cleverly arranged a few months ago...back.
The 'new normal' (excuse me while a throw up into a small paper bag as I type that) - looks pretty much like the 'old normal' to me; at least on the surface of it.
Perhaps what has changed, is that we now have the collective experience of having endured a global disruption that affected everyone on the planet in equal measure.
Disruption is not not just something that once happened to Kodak and Blackberry.
Disruption snuck up on us - all of us - from a place that nobody was watching, and mercilessly pulled the rug from under our feet.
We are still to fully understand how devastating this disruption has been - and there is no doubt that its effects will be felt for years to come.
Many, many businesses and organisations have already closed - millions of jobs have been lost - and many more doors are still going to close in the near future.
What happens now, for the rest who have survived this disaster, is critical.
This will not be the last great disruption - in many respects it really is just a warmup round to shake out a few cobwebs and wake everybody up.
We have been woken up to the realisation that tomorrow is not guaranteed to look like today.
We have been alerted to the reality that we operate within systems that are far bigger, more powerful and are moving faster, and with greater uncertainty, than what we realised previously.
We now know that forces of change that have the power to end a business can come very quickly from places that we never even considered were worthy of our attention.
Knowing that there will be more to come - the solutions that need to be urgently explored, will include;
- making sure that organisations are re-designed to be more nimble,
- that actively developing a culture of innovation is key,
- that making sure that your organisation aggressively pursues a strategic time-horizon that is longer than 5 years is critical, and
- actively building a sound and sustainable value chain that is resilient in the face of a broad range of existing and wildly-imagined disruptions, is prudent.
If you go back to business as usual - you would have done exactly what that old saying suggests that you shouldn't; you've wasted a perfectly good disaster.
Don't waste this disaster.
Wallow in your frustration.
Reflect deeply on the pain that it inflicted, and if needs be - etch that misery into your consciousness. Because a lot of work lies ahead.
A lot of soul searching and rebuilding needs to be done, after you purposefully rip down the old structures and thinking that derailed you on this occasion.
In my experience having worked with numerous organisations in this rebuilding phase, this takes honesty and an enlightening collective realisation that change is really what's needed - otherwise history will most certainly repeat itself.