- 2020 was all about pivoting: In workplaces, health sector and being more open-minded in our society.
- Key learnings for the future: Smarter practices and work habits, keeping commitments and promises, finding purpose and delivering value.
- We can’t settle for low standards. We need to set the bar higher than ever before. Facts, truth and science are the key words for the next normal.
- Leading by example: The next normal must require ACTION. Setting the norms, becoming the role-model for others and confronting inequalities. Words are not enough!
2021 will be the year of transition. A transition to a next normal and potentially a better next normal. Barring any unexpected catastrophes, individuals, businesses, and society can start to look forward to shaping their futures rather than just grinding through the present. But this time it’s going to be different – I would say very different! While we´ve entered 2021 with cautious optimism, we had time for reflecting, refreshing, and resolving. And we believed that nothing could batter us as brutally as 2020 did. Now, we wonder.
One of the most worn but apt words used to describe 2020 is “pivotal.” We pivoted from a mobile, office-established workforce to a remote, virtually connected population. We moved from a socially insular world to one with eyes wide open to more inequality, controversy and pain. We transformed from health-confident, interactive people to a vast and isolated number of individuals, distanced and masked. And in the midst of it all, our sense of truth, faith, honesty and integrity was assaulted by global leaders with dubious and dangerous actions as well as social groups who intend to weaken and undermine democratic structures.
Most of the painful realities and pivots of 2020 will hopefully make us stronger. Vaccines will get us back to living and working in close proximity, with smarter practices and work habits. Commitments and promises will be kept as we seek a more just and equitable world and workplace, and progress will be measured. The business of doing business will rediscover its heartbeat, and corporates will heed the lessons of the past year by finding purpose and delivering authentic value. Comradery and closeness will eventually be safe again, and in time we hope to see countries, industries and communities convening to collaborate and shake hands over new ideas and partnerships.
One by-product of 2020, however, became very visible by groups of conspiracy theorists and their hate speeches, slander and discriminatory remarks because it threatens to further divide our society. It is more than the persistent, caustic, and distorted noise that emanates from certain quarters. It is also the echo and actions of an agitated minority, supported and directed by some extreme political actors. It is the misguided passion of people who demonstrate and fight against a truth they have been convinced not to see.
As a kid, I was trained to understand both sides of an argument, and I am fully aware that I am no better or no worse than the people with whom I disagree. But try as I might to see this episode from both perspectives, I find no place to hang my hat on what I firmly believe is the wrong side of reality. When I witness falsehoods, discrimination and mistrust, it is not o.k. just to watch. Some things, like truth and science, are sacred. We can’t accept a lower bar for what is fact … that can’t be where we go as we venture into 2021. The next normal cannot include a lower standard for tolerance, truth, human decency, and kindness. In the context of what we tolerate, if there is a next normal the bar has to go up, not down.
We cannot tolerate lies. There may be different criteria for good or bad … but not for truth.
The next normal will surely be defined by closer ties to family and home, fewer business trips, new ways of working, new ways of living, shopping, dining, travelling, entertaining, and communicating. But the next normal must also be defined by more generosity, kindness, trust, honesty, fairness, integrity, tolerance, and truth – both in society and business!
Words alone cannot make a better world. Action is required. For me, I humbly intend to lead by example in 2021. I will support, champion and vote for what is humane and kind. I will confront racism, inequality, envy and jealousy and intrigues wherever it occurs and give my time, energy and gifts to others who are in the same fight. I will create new business opportunities to encourage people and team members to live and work where they feel comfortable and confident to do their best work. I will continue to help my clients and partners grow and do well by doing good. As the British actor Paul Shane Spear said: “As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person.”
For my business and related global network, I sincerely hope to see a continuation of the incredible responses and actions that 2020 inspired. With my business companions we will give new meaning to the word partnership. We will turn our passion for people and their work and engagement into a new boutique powerhouse to support their ideas, creativity, innovations and spirit of change. The good news is that our network is filled with some of the most brilliant and innovative thinkers. We have to continue to unleash our full potential to create a better next normal through connecting and matchmaking the right dots.
We can make great things happen in 2021. We must. Words alone cannot make a better world. Action is required and I am calling each of you to do the same.
Christian Muche is an internationally recognized executive and business strategist operating at the intersection of digital, marketing, technology and event industries with an extensive track record for brands like AOL, YAHOO and FIFA. Christian is the co-founding partner of WUNDERGUARD and the initiator behind this new boutique consulting firm. In this role, Christian creates successful brands for design, position and support companies, as well as individual global executives all over the world.
He is also the co-founder and brain behind DMEXCO, one of the leading global digital marketing event platforms. With his decentralized team in Europe, he ran the day-to-day business of DMEXCO for nearly ten years till 2018. In 2019, Christian launched D:PULSE – the innovative global boutique-style conference show.
For more than 13 years Christian Muche has lived with his family in New Zealand, holds a German as well as Kiwi passport and enjoys various outdoor sports, including mountain biking, trekking and diving.