Over the past few days, there was a lot of talk about a turning point, a change in the times, or a bit more trendy, a “new normal”. Personally, I first heard the term in 2008 in the financial industry, when after the bankruptcy of Lehmann Brothers suddenly everyone talked about “the new normal”. Interestingly, the phrase goes all the way back to 1966, when the author Robert Heinlein used it in his novel “The Moon and the harsh mistress”, which describes the transition to a new calendar.
Since then, the term has been applied to everything that’s new and unexpected, most recently for the new normality after Covid-19. Now we are facing another new normal. A normality where polarisation and spheres of influence are on the economic and global political agenda. A normality where freedom in Europe is no longer to be taken for granted.
What makes the term “the new normal” different from other contemporary buzzwords like VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) is that the new normality is not defined. What is normal anyway? Perhaps the new normal is especially interesting because its story simply hasn’t been written. We are de facto involved in defining the new normality. Three things can help us do this:
1. The clear positioning of companies, states and individuals on socially relevant issues
2. The development and defence of a shared European DNA
3. Imagination in preparing for the possible future
Even if we can’t imagine it: Security is and remains an illusion. That’s why it is time to awaken. Because only one thing is certain: The future has not yet been written.