The Five Principles of The No Normal
In late June, we introduced the concept of The No Normal, our perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare industry. As we look to begin a new blog series on navigating the No Normal, we thought we should look back at the meaning and the principles that started it all.
We’ve heard many people anxiously wondering what things will look like in the “new normal.” But in reality, we have no idea what “normal” will look like, or even when things could be deemed “normal.” The COVID-19 pandemic is potentially not unlike the Great Depression or World War II, which could bring profound and lasting change to our society. The truth is, we’re living in a “No Normal” environment, and in terms of healthcare, it may take many months or even years for anything resembling “normal.” That said, we can’t let that stop us from moving forward. We have to learn to live with and succeed in the uncertainty.
So what will it take to survive, if not thrive, in the No Normal? Here are five principles to help guide healthcare marketers and communicators in the coming months, or even, years:
1. No assumptions – We can no longer assume what we knew to be successful yesterday will be successful today or tomorrow. All truths, maxims, strategies, and best practices must be revisited and revised (or tossed out) when applied to our current situation.
2. A fluid environment – The primary reason we can’t rest on known best practices is that the No Normal is not a constant or consistent state. Society and the healthcare industry look different today than they did yesterday, and different now amid the pandemic than they will both emerging from it and one-to-two years following a full recovery from it. Of course, the situation will vary region by region, state by state, and community by community, but each market will be fluid in their own manner.
3. Constant learning – Given we can’t assume anything, and we're operating in a fluid environment, then constant learning is a requirement. That means more rapid, nimble, and agile research, testing, and measurement. The feedback loop must become a feedback racetrack, and data is the fuel.
4. Massive ripples – The No Normal is not just about thriving during COVID-19 and emerging from it. The impact on the economy from COVID-19 could be just as great and long-lasting – or even greater – than the disease itself. Societal unrest and change from racial disparities could (and should) have long-lasting import. And if our industry was changing as dramatically as it was before all of this, then that level of change in terms of consumerism, regulation, new competition, and innovation could be twice as substantial and twice as fast. Yes, COVID-19 was unfortunately the trigger. But the No Normal will have many dimensions as we move forward. And let’s be honest, in so many ways, we should really not want to return to what was normal before.
5. Comfort in chaos – Healthcare marketers and communicators can’t be frozen by challenges that arise in the No Normal. We must be comfortable without having all the answers, without having the comfy guidelines of the past, without always knowing which way to go. We must be comfortable with rapid change and varying levels of seeming chaos.