Jul 23 2020

The Goal Should Not Be The New Normal

For the last several months, I’ve heard or read the phrase “the new normal” 7,354 times. I’ve steadily grown tired of it and now I believe it is an invalid concept.

There is no new normal. We have move forward and get better.

Steve Case wrote a great OpEd recently titled There’s no going back to the pre-pandemic economy. Congress should respond accordingly.

This week, Congress will likely take up the next steps in the economic response to the covid-19 pandemic. If the package is like previous efforts, it will focus on trying to turn back the clock to February 2020: treating the economy as if it were Sleeping Beauty, merely needing to be awakened to be fully restored. This strategy is a mistake: Congress needs to stop solely backing efforts to restore the old economic reality and focus on how to develop a new one.

The Kauffman Foundation recently came out with a mission to Rebuild Better.

Comprised of more than 150 entrepreneurship advocates across the country, the Start Us Up coalition is working to elevate the voices of entrepreneurs so policymakers reverse decades of misplaced priorities that have made it far easier for big businesses to grow than for new businesses to start at all. Our goal is not just to restore the economy, but to rebuild better by ensuring all Americans — especially female, minority, immigrant, and rural entrepreneurs who have historically been marginalized by investors and lenders — can turn their ideas into businesses.

The goal should not be the new normal. The old normal didn’t work for many Americans. The old normal had incredible income inequity, racial inequity, gender inequity, and many other inequities. When I wrote that I’m Fast-Forwarding to 2025, I had this in the back of my mind, but I couldn’t articulate it.

Change is unpredictable, bumpy, impossible to predict, challenging, stressful, and non-linear. But, as humans, all of these things make us incredibly uncomfortable. Often, we want to go back to “the way things were” since that felt safe, or predictable, or even if we didn’t really like it, was at least something we understood.

Going back to the way we were, with some adjustments, is how I interpret the phrase “the new normal.” I don’t think it will work. I don’t think it’s desirable. I don’t think it’s progress.

So many of the leaders I respect like Steve Case and The Kauffman Foundation are being clear about this. They may use different words, but I feel completely aligned with their vision.

I have no interest in a new normal. I’m only interested in something much better across our society that what was the old normal.

I encourage leaders to embrace change. Embrace complexity. Embrace uncertainty. I certainly am.