The jury’s unsurprisingly out, but it is giving us a clue

In our dealings with senior decision makers across the business world over the last couple of weeks we’ve experienced a real range of emotions from despair through to determination to emerge stronger and fitter.  So we thought it might be interesting to gauge the wider market to see if we could find the prevailing mood.

Here’s what we found

In essence, it seems industry leaders are pretty much split. 41% report a cautious optimism, knowing that business as (new) normal will resume but not being sure what it will look like. They however think that they will be in a better place in the future as a result of the pandemic.

This was very closely followed by those who felt more energised and inspired (38%), understanding that although there’s a change, this is an unparalleled opportunity to do things differently and create valuable new relationships during this time.

It was good to see that only 8% felt concerned or worried about what the future will bring, or how the state of the economy would impact their business. Finally, a meagre 2% have found that they’ve never been in greater need, and their principle issue is how to adapt to the new demands.

Although the results are mixed, there is a theme of positivity over pessimism. This is also reflective of what we’re experiencing through our daily interactions with our clients and their prospects.

Dealing with it, and moving forward

As with every major change, there’s an initial period of adjustment, and coming to terms with what has happened. We’ve certainly seen this, and seen it change over the last few weeks. In a Harvard Business Review article, we thought it was nicely summarised as a sense of ‘grief’. David Kessler, an expert on grief, commented that the world is feeling ‘a loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving.’

This certainly tallies with our respondents feeling a sense of insecurity, and not knowing what normal now is – something Kessler refers to as ‘anticipatory grief’ – the feeling we get when we know something bad is out there, the storm is coming, but we can’t see it.

The fact that the industry is already coming to terms with this ‘anticipatory grief’ is both impressive and humbling. In the normal change curve, we go through the period of Denial – this isn’t really happening – into Anger, into Mitigation and finally into Acceptance – which is where progress happens. The fact that it appears UK businesses have already moved towards Acceptance is hugely encouraging – both to accelerate commerce and get business moving, but also that the people making it happen are able to adjust so quickly.

Adapting to the new normal

It cannot be ignored that change is still happening all around us, our work, daily routines, habits and the economy. Every day brings a new challenge, and mindset will continue to be key in the continual Acceptance and Adaptation cycle – but on the basis of the results we’re seeing, and the engagement we’re having, we’re positive and confident we can do this.

Simon Sinek’s view of an infinite mindset is particularly noteworthy in these times. He highlights the importance of adaptation and that when a new and innovative product/service enters the market, other companies fail because they don’t diversify or change to keep the pace. The current pandemic has caused a change and businesses must adapt and reinvent within their own company; adapt so that you market yourself to fit in with the new normal.

Sinek finishes by saying that survival mode is finite, and we must enter reinvention mode to move forward and look beyond the pandemic.

Based on what we’re seeing, this is happening. And it’s a privilege to be part of such a phenomenal effort.

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