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What is the New Normal? | Reflections in a time of reflection

By Lars Ib

As leaders, we are in a period of great complexity and unpredictability – both in a corporate and social context. From a Danish perspective, we are entering a partial reopening of the country, like a significant part of the EU. In Denmark, it is estimated that COVID-19 is under control, but we, as citizens, still have to live with distance and great personal hygiene until a vaccine arrives. Therefore, most Danes consider the COVID-19 health crisis to be over at the national level—and that the health crisis has now been replaced by a deeper and more serious economic crisis.

It is hard to predict the events and development in the coming years. However, there are a number of different paradigms that will have an impact on the "new normal" in the future. I am concerned with these dilemmas and paradigms as it is not a simple question of either/or but a question of both:

  • FROM narrow-minded value creation TO socially responsible value creation

  • FROM profit-optimized value creation TO green value creation

  • FROM mechanical forms of cooperation TO organic forms of cooperation

FROM narrow-minded value creation TO socially responsible value creation:

As part of the Danish lock-down, in connection with COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis, the Danish Government has launched large economic aid packages for the Danish business community. Recommendations have also been made to a number of industries, which were encouraged to show good public spirit by staying closed.

There is a clear picture emerging, that companies which do not contribute with taxes in Denmark or have their companies registered in tax havens, draw on Danish goodwill through the financial aid packages. We also see examples of companies not complying with guidelines, like the IKEA stores, which chose to open despite a recommendation to keep closed. These companies experience public scrutiny and judgement, in the form of online shitstorms, negative press coverage and so on.

FROM profit-optimized value creation to GREEN VALUE CREATION:

Both in Denmark and the EU, a completely new picture emerges of cities and communities with significantly less CO2 emissions. This is the case in Venice, where the water is once again clear in the canals and the fish have returned. Therefore, there is a significant increase in the demand for politicians and leading corporate executives, to implement green transition at all levels. My expectation is that large-scale public business programs will have a green focus and that there will be increased government regulation to ensure a green transition.

FROM mechanical collaborations TO organic forms of collaboration:

In a global perspective, most companies have worked with Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other virtual platforms in recent months. Here in Denmark, my experience is that it has led to increased productivity, greater availability, co-creation, greater job satisfaction and more individual freedom. Therefore, I also believe that in the future we will see more organic forms of cooperation, where virtual platforms will be a natural instrument. This will impose new requirements on management, organisation and forms of cooperation.

From my perspective, responsible and profitable management based on the guiding principles of ethics, social morality and sustainability will not be two competing sides – they will be one and the same.

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