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The pandemic has shown it’s not enough to slap technology onto the problem, hoping that will fix it


  • We have to build organizations that can thrive in the new ‘Never Normal.’
  • We have massive amounts of data and information that could guide us to help improve how people work, learn, and collaborate. But we haven’t even scratched the surface.
  • The pandemic has shown it’s not enough to slap technology onto the problem, hoping that will fix it

So what does the future of HR look like? And what kind of HR might we expect in a ‘Phoenix,’ a company that can transform and reinvent itself and come out stronger?

I wrote a book, exactly 10 years ago with the title ‘The New Normal.’ I described the transition where digital used to be ‘special,’ and how it would become ‘normal.’ That’s pretty much what we all witnessed in the last decade, personally and professionally. Today I can’t stand the term ‘New Normal’ anymore, since it has become massively overused, and dreadfully hollowed out.

The term I use more and more now is the ‘Never Normal.’ It would be naive to think that after COVID, we all snap back into the ‘old’ normal, where everything would go back to what it used to be. There is no old normal anymore, the old normal is dead.

Julian Birkinshaw, professor at London Business School uses the term ‘hysteris,’ borrowed from physics. Magnetism is a great example, where if you remove the magnetic field applied to a piece of iron, the iron remains at least partially magnetized. Hysteresis means that the impact of a change on a system cannot just be reversed by taking away the force you applied in the first place. In other words, the New Normal minus COVID is not the Old Normal.

That means we will have to build companies that are resilient and can adapt to constant change, that not just know how to bounce back from adversities, but can actually ‘bounce forward’ and can thrive in a world of volatility and perpetual change. We will have to build organizations that can thrive in this ‘Never Normal.’

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