As executives adjust to the realities of business during COVID-19, they often default to talking about the “new normal.” Although this phrase acknowledges that there will be differences — some of which customers have already experienced — it’s a blithe nod to the notion of coming back to something that begins to feel familiar. Sure, we now have curbside pickup, more video calls, and less actual contact between customers and those who serve them. But normal, new or otherwise, implies a degree of familiarity and stability that is impossible now and might be so for years. It gives an unrealistic expectation of comfort, and, as an unintended consequence, encourages people to close their eyes to new possibilities.
The reality is that we are in an era ruled by uncertainty. In one recent survey, more than 80 percent of business leaders said that they were likely to make significant