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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The New Normal

What is Normal?

It is a mosaic of the things we know, the changes we experience, and the structural shifts that affect how we do business. It's our collective beliefs about the what – how – why – when – who of doing business. It is dynamic and changes as its elements change.

Long ago Normal was business correspondence written with a nib pen in your best cursive handwriting. Then came typewriters > the correcting Selectric electric typewriter > centralized word processing > PC-based word processing > email. Each step a change in what's considered Normal.

What is the New Normal?

During the past 2-years to 25-years how we do business has been changing and much of the evolution was doing the same things but using less resources or expanding into new (and usually non-domestic) markets. Normal was shaken up, got a bit tattered, and acquired some additional rhetoric when we spoke about it – but it was still recognizable as Normal. We 'd speak about 'getting back to Normal' but saw no movement back to that familiar place.

In the past couple of years, a New Normal has morphed (and is continuing to do so) into a vastly different descriptor of doing business – changes are surfacing that are nothing like those in the past, which are radically affecting how we conduct business. It is quite different from the past – New Normal...how things will be.

Here's two examples which emphasize the shifting focus to individuals and smaller organizations:

A couple of days ago, I went to a Google Talks session about App Developers and heard from a panel of 5 independents who write application programs for various portable and mobile devices (like tablet PCs & iPad, and the Android & iPhone). They create Apps to fill user needs, like: social media tools, communications/connections, storage of info, and games – sold over the internet. This has been the realm of the device manufacturers or software giants – and now is done by organizations of 1-10 individuals.

TV Week just reported that free-standing kiosks are now renting more movies that the bricks & mortar video rental stores. The kiosks are a hodge-podge of individual entrepreneurs and small companies.

These changes have evolved in just a few years and illustrate the shift in underlying structure of conducting business toward individuals and small organizations.

Is this just a couple of anomalies or does it show the tip of a strong trend? What do you think of the New Normal?
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