Tuesday, July 7, 2009

When will things get back to normal?

In the recent issue of Business Week, in the Welch Way column in the back, a question was asked about when the recession would be over and we'd get back to normal. Jack (or Suzy) responded with an answer, "sometime in 2010."

I understand why they gave this answer. It's vague, but not too vague. It sets reasonable expectations about a foreseeable date in the not too distant future. And it's simple. Unfortunately, it's also terribly misleading. Because what the person is asking isn't, "when will the recession end?", but what they are really asking is, "when will we get back to the normalcy that I had become used to in 2006-2008?"

This is a little bit like a New York Yankees fan asking when things are going to be normal again, with their definition of normal being 1998-2002, when the Yankees were winning all those World Series titles. The Yankees have been over-leveraged for the past few years, just like the US economy. The problem is that the previous normal doesn't exist anymore and probably isn't coming back. Sarbanes-AIG or some other set of new regulations won't allow the uber-leveraging that happened from 2005-2008.

What I can't understand is why so many people are standing still, waiting for the previous normal to return. I suspect it's because they desire to have the comfort and security they had back in 2008. In fact I know it is. But as the old saying goes, "a watched pot doesn't boil". Waiting isn't going to get anybody anywhere expect further behind the rest of the people that are pushing forward, making things happen on their own.

What I'm finding throughout this reseting is that more doors are opening when I go knocking than they might have in the past. People are more open to new ideas and new partnerships, especially if you add some creativity to the relationship (free work for a period of time in exchange for experience; lowering costs via social media; business models that share risk, etc.).

I'm having a lot of fun right now trying to find additional opportunities for classmates. Some of them are simple, such as guest blogger slots on popular websites to gain visibility. Others are relationship building to get new businesses into new markets. I never knew which one will end up being fruitful, but there are definitely opportunities to define the new normal if you're willing to step out and make some things happen.
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