ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for April, 2020

If You Expect Normal Results From This New Normal You’ll Be Surprised. So, How Should We View These Times?

Posted by Plish on April 16, 2020

It seems we see this phrase almost everywhere: The New Normal

“Special Report – The New Normal – Emerging Innovations in a World Shaped by Covid-19” (This is a great report from the folks at Trendhunter! Get a copy of it here)

“Learn how to thrive in the new normal.”

The problem is, this is not normal.  Yes, it’s a new situation but it is anything but normal.  Normalcy implies that there are known rules to the game, that a certain action creates certain reactions.  Instead, it seems the rules change every day.  People just aren’t sure what tomorrow will bring.

No, we are living in liminal times.

What is Liminality?

It is the blurry time that exists between what was and what is to come.  The term ‘liminal’ gained traction among anthropologists.  It’s used to describe the transitional times that occur in people’s lives, families and societies.  Weddings, funerals, births, baptisms, a Bar Mitzvah or Quinceañera, divorce, new jobs, the ‘hazing’ period that fraternities make Pledges go through-for that matter, what any initiate to a new organization goes through.   They’re all types of transitions and as such people experience liminal states.   Put simply, during these times, a person is no longer a member of what was, but she also isn’t an official member of a group either. Liminal states are thresholds into what is new.

Traits of Liminal States

Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper.  On left side write the words “The Past” and on the right side, “The Future”.  The line is the liminal state.  Most liminal states are planned for, but on the larger scale, wars, disease, sociopolitical circumstances, can all create liminality and those are typically not planned for.   How do you know when you are inside the line?  Here are some indicators that let you know when you are in the liminal state.  (Does this describe what we’re going through?)

  1. The liminal state has its own rules and are different from what comes before and what comes after.
  2. Transitional
  3. Shared rituals
  4. Social hierarchies get upended or become non-existent
  5. Some type of social separation
  6. Introspection and reflection upon events and directions
  7. A time of rebirth, of creative remaking

Why Does Liminality Matter?

We are innovating and trying to grow and build business in a time in which it seems the target is moving.  We have no idea when ‘normalcy’ will return, if ever.  As a business, there’s no guarantee that what we create now will continue to work, and there’s definitely no guarantee that what we do now will work 3 months or a year from now.

Now and Later

Since we are in a liminal state, we are in a state in which the rules are being made.  Rules are not only being made for now, they may be being made for the future.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the suggestion that we never shake hands again.   While this is definitely a rule that we should be following in the present, whether or not that happens in the Future is still to be seen. 

What Rules do we Plan For?

Nobody knows what life is like on the other side of this liminal experience.   Heck, no one knows what next month will be like.  The gut reaction is to try and predict how the future will pan out.  However, that’s a risky move and instead it’s better to do one or both of the following.

Try and Make the Future.

Making the Future is easier said than done, and people typically have more success the more limited the scope of the changes are in time and/or space.  (About the only thing you have control of and that you can definitely make future resistant is your own attitude and your own perspectives, and even that can be quite difficult!)

Don’t Predict, Plan

The other choice is to not try and predict, but instead plan for various scenarios.  In other words, you want to look at possible futures and set yourself up so that you are able to survive in more likely futures, or multiple futures, not just one.

Scenario Planning

Scenario planning was actually popularized as a strategic planning tool by Shell .  The process can easily take months on a corporate level, but you can be as in-depth as you like.  However, the more time you spend on the exercise, the more you will understand how the future may unfold, and it will yield better results when you design products and services during these times.

Scenario planning takes a look at the past and present to better understand possible futures.  It’s a structured framework for analyzing trends and drivers be they social, technological, environmental, political, or economic.  Once you know what types of things are happening in the world you can understand the likelihood they will impact the issue you’re looking at.

I strongly suggest checking out, “4 Steps to the Future” by Richard A.K. Lum.  It’s concise with templates galore.  There is copious Scenario Planning info on the internet and in book form, but I found this handbook to be a great, usable tool to get the ball rolling and structure your thinking around what might happen and how you can prepare for it.  While doing a thorough, full blown, scenario exercise is a good thing, anything you do to help you understand possible future scenarios will be a good thing.

In the Playground of Potential Futures

The Future is a horizon that glows in every second of the Now.  Each day brings new challenges, new information, new hope.  Rembrandt, Michelangelo and others of the Renaissance, rose from the liminal times of the Plague to create some of Humanity’s most powerful works.

Remember that line you drew down the center of the paper?

That Liminal space is powerful and filled with potential.  Everything to the right of that line is a product of the Past and the Liminal Line! The line is not only something that divides, it is the start, and we are living it! It’s a time to reboot and re-make, to re-create/recreate, to make new rules and perhaps jettison old ones.  Yes, these are terrible times but they are also filled with awesome potential.  Explore and use this time to re-center, forge new growth, new strategies and directions, new relationships, because what we are living through now is not a ‘new normal’.

It’s Liminal.

 

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, Great Creative Minds, innovation, Social Innovation, The Future, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: