The New Normal

Can you give me a hand?

Current literature is full of advice on succeeding in the modern workplace. Virtual workers, flexible schedules, technology advances and the flat organization have all contributed to the new normal we don't really yet understand.

So much to know!

Yet, as much as things change they tend to stay the same.

For example, whether private, public or NGO the basic premise of “organization” is that people must work together to achieve results. Nowadays we call this “collaboration.” We used to call this, uh, working together.

Regardless of the label or the environment though being succesful – i.e., actually contributing to the organization's mission – is a mathematical function of getting things done. How much energy did we pour into you in order to “get things done?”

So what's it take to be successful in the new normal?


  • The practice of working together whether with the person across the table or the voice around the world is really the art of no ego. Think of it like this: in order for anyone to want to get involved in our work product they've got to feel invited or welcomed. Ego gets in the way just like that tinny-electronic Christmas song repeating incessantly and annoyingly in your head, 'I'm better, I'm better, I'm…' You get the idea. Put your ego aside. Feel comfortable with who you are and what you bring. Once you acknowledge that you're okay and not under threat you can start the process of collaboration through sharing. What does it take to share? Invite others in


  • Workplaces around the world are filled with the detritus of task teams that went nowhere even as our massive data storage farms overflow with pointless PowerPoints. What gives? The challenge today – as in days past – is to adopt the builder's perspective. That is, add to things instead of tearing down. The builder moves forward recognizing the blueprint is a starting place subject to change, but not in fundamental concept. Once the foundation is poured the builder seldom if ever rips it out to start over! Builders constantly add, improve, incoprotating integrated systems-thinking (electrical, air, etc) to work together harmoniously. Are you a builder taking other's ideas and adding to them? You understand collaboration


  • People won't seek invalidation. If your management style is a variation on Atilla the Hun its not likely many will remain in your camp for your next scorched earth campaign. There are too many options, too many other outlets today for people to feel like they're adding value and making a contribution. If you don't find a method that allows you to acknowledge others – to validate them even as you build upon and adapt their ideas – they just aren't going to work with you. Validation is all about recognizing the contributions of others and telling them so in ways that work for your culture. Showing others how you value them? That's validation

Maybe the art of getting things done isn't that different than in days past. Yes, the tools and the processes change as they should. Yet fundamentally, being open to others and building relationships is probably not very different than a hundred, or maybe a thousand years ago.

The new normal is really the old school: act like you care about working with others while keeping your ego in check, and you'll not only get a lot more done collaboratively, but you just may have a hell of a lot of fun doing so.

Carry on.


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