How to Counsel for the “New Normal” Economy

by James M. Kerr

The changing economic times of the past few years have dictated changes in the way work is done. Businesses can ill afford to adopt a “more of the same” philosophy. Staffing levels have declined to a new equilibrium that is above the point of diminishing returns. Vacancies are refilled on a limited basis and only with good justification. Budget and expenditure scrutiny have become standard occurrences. Nearly every enterprise has had to tighten its belt. Generation Y has entered the workforce and are encouraging new ways of thinking and doing. As a result a “New Normal” is being established – one marked by efficient execution, customer-friendly service delivery and timely decision-making.
So, how do we, as management consultants and leadership coaches, counsel our clients to better prepare them (and their respective organizations) to make the transition into the New Normal?
Here are three principles that I suggest leaders adopt and institutionalize within their organizations:

1. We will embrace an “Outside-In” perspective

A paradigm shift of brilliant proportions is upon us and our organizations. By placing needed emphasis on the service delivery aspects of enterprises, we can begin to realize that the best results are achieved by embracing an “outside-in” point of view – one that considers the impact of the organization policy and procedural changes on the customer and other outside constituents before implementation. In this way, many mistakes can be avoided and rework can be minimized.

2. We will enthusiastically implement an “In It Together” management style

The old ways of running an enterprise must give way to a new style of business management. The new style should be characterized as one where “we’re in it together.” Leaders and management are there to set direction and enable success. It welcomes rigor and discipline and encourages calculated risk-taking, as long as all of the issues are well understood and the actions are consistent with the way the senior leadership wants to conduct business.

3. We will seek outside perspectives as an essential business practice

Prior to the adoption of the “outside-in” perspective, many leaders have, perhaps unknowingly, fostered a closed operation – one that rarely seeks advice from the outside. This philosophy must change. Outside viewpoints need to be routinely solicited in order for the enterprise of the future to better service its business community. From the engagement of management consultants and trusted advisors to use of ad-hoc external client advisory boards the petitioning of outside counsel should become an essential business practice within every organization.

To Close

Every organization is, now, in a period of great transition as they navigate down the road towards the New Normal economy. We can help to make that trip a little less arduous for our clients by counseling them to embrace these three simple principles – without a doubt, they can serve as essential guideposts into the future.

James M. KerrJames M. Kerr is an author, lecturer, organizational behaviorist and well-respected management consultant specializing in strategy formulation and corporate transformation. Consulting with many Fortune 100 firms, Jim can claim such diverse organizations as The Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase, IBM and the Joint Chiefs of Staff as clients. His most recent book, The Executive Checklist (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) is available in bookstores. He can be reached at Many topics discussed in this article can be explored further in his latest book: The Executive Checklist: A Guide Setting Direction and Managing Change.

1 thought on “How to Counsel for the “New Normal” Economy”

  1. Many changes in our economies are being driven by increased competition from third world countries that are developing the capacity to participate in the modern economy. It’s great to see these societies becoming involved in the global economy. At the same time, it is important that first world economies understand that it is not business as usual. We cannot compete in this new reality simply by doing the same things better – because the third world can, in fact, often do those same things much better than we can ever hope to do. We need to do new things, better things, and continue to lead in innovation, development and excellence in a variety of areas: science and technology, organizational development, social development and personal development. We will continue to participate at the level we have become accustomed to participating, only by being smarter and better than we have ever been before.

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