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Sep 21, 2021

In this episode of The NEXT Normal, we wrap up season one with a focus on where the pandemic created bright spots. What conversations happened because of our young people? What impact did they have? How are we now facing gaps in our education systems? Our co-hosts share the positive lessons they’ve learned through the pandemic and through this series.

Decision Partners President, Sarah Thorne kicks off the conversation and says there remains a lot of unanswered questions as we move forward from our pandemic experience. However, we’ve learned a lot that we can take forward through creativity, with clear purpose, and to work collaboratively to tackle the big issues. 

Sarah [00:03:22] “We really need to enable and encourage system thinking because certainly the pandemic has taught us that all of these things are interconnected. Mother nature has been telling us that for years.”

Lisa Taylor, President of Challenge Factory, goes deeper on a question from episode seven, ‘What do we want the future of work to look like?’. Whether we’re discussing workplaces, the environment, food security, health equity, the list goes on, it begins by having a seat at the table for everyone, facilitating dialogue- including with our grandchildren- some of the most imaginative minds available.

Lisa [00:06:29] “There's a concept of, ‘Nothing for us without us.’ It starts within certain demographic groups and certain disadvantaged populations that says, don't create programs for us without including us. And we can certainly apply that to an age lens as well.”

Ujwal Arkalgud, cultural anthropologist, CEO and co-founder at Motivbase, elaborates on the idea from episode 11 that we don’t need to mythbust rather we should embrace the new myths to learn better lessons. Using surfing as an analogy, he suggests leaders ride the wave of the new consumer beliefs and understanding coming out of the pandemic and use it to find a new way forward.

Ujwal [00:10:15] “One of the things that we teach when we go into these organizations is to figure out what are the areas where you don't have control and one of those areas is how myths, ideas about anything and everything in culture develops. There's very little control over that. And certainly brands cannot dictate that and certainly politicians cannot dictate that. So then the question becomes, okay, so what do we do about it?”

Following the thread of going with the flow, Sarah says we’re not going to solve problems of the future with solutions of the past. 

Sarah [00:12:57] “I think it's the same thing with education and policy-making, we need to be thinking about, we need to put on our adaptive management brains and we need to combine it with a passion and a commitment to continuous learning because there's no check-the-box solutions.”

We started season one with meaning as currency. Additionally it’s become clear that creativity is also currency as we move forward. Urban planner, Dave Hardy is President at Hardy Stevenson and Associates believes there are two very important positives that have come out of the pandemic.

Dave [00:14:37] “We need to open up our minds and allow that creativity to come in. I see two areas of better coming out of COVID. One is senior care, the vulnerable care. We need to do a much better job there but COVID has shown a light on that, unfortunately. We need to do a much better job in designing our cities. We have vacant office spaces. We redesigned public spaces and places of gathering. So that has been a result of COVID as well to have forced us to think, how do we be creative and make that happen?”

Ujwal suggests that no matter the subject we’re talking about there is one underlying, positive theme.

[00:15:52] “I mean, the big thing that I've learned, I think just going through this series is that there is an underlying message of optimism in everything we're talking about. And I think the pandemic has actually made us more optimistic than the other way around.”

Lisa believes that one of the positives that has come out COVID is zoom, and not the virtual meeting technology.

[00:18:05] “...but zoom in terms of the level of focus that we put very tight up on a certain topic or very broad. And I think one of the things that we've learned going through COVID is we need to be able to [00:18:20] readjust the level of focus that we have all at the same time.”

Sarah highlights that one positive lesson learned through the pandemic is the power of connection and getting to know the people in our communities.

[00:20:45] “We learned, to Dave's point, to value the people in our community who are looking after us, the people who were working in healthcare, the people who were delivering food, the people that were producing food. I think that we learned about our communities. We learned about people who are vulnerable in our communities, including seniors living in their own homes who didn't have access to the help that they needed during the pandemic. We've got to do a better job. So, I think that we learned about  connection and I think that we learned a lot about our personal values, which is what we need to really build on going forward.”

The Next Normal is sponsored by:

Challenge Factory: Shaping the future of work.

Decision Partners: Our world is a better place when we make better decisions.

MotivBase: Decoding implicit meaning behind what people talk about. 

Hardy Stevenson & Associates: Planning the cities of the future. 

This series is produced for the Story Studio Network by iContact Productions

Have comments questions or ideas for our hosts? Feel free to drop us an email at hello[at]StoryStudioNetwork[dot]com. 

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