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Shape Your ‘New Normal’ With Individuals And Interactions In Mind

Stylized representation of individuals and interactionsThis moment is a chance to reshape how we think about work. The disruption of the pandemic, its months-long forced isolation, and atomization of our work and lives, forced us to fundamentally rethink how we, as individuals, interact with each other. With our colleagues, with our families, with our friends, and with each other. 

A social contract was severed and a new one is taking shape.

I recently had dinner with one of my closest friends for the first time in more than a year. It was full of laughter and joy, but also tears as we talked of how the pandemic had affected our friendship. Then an interesting thing happened. We asked each other how we want to, not rebuild, but remake our relationship. Into something new. Better. More conscious.

Those kinds of conversations are happening all over the world now. It is an opportunity to rethink how we relate to each other at work as well. 

As leaders wrestle with what work means now I believe it is important, as Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel famously said during the financial crisis in 2008, “Don’t let a crisis go to waste.” Now is the opportunity not to passively absorb the “new normal,” but an opportunity to shape it. 

Shaping it, of course, revolves around that first value of the Agile Manifesto, an awkwardly phrased term that points out a fundamental truth: People and the connections between them are what truly matter. 

Many organizations are now trying to define what their ‘new normal’ will be. Examining their structure is a critical piece of that work. 

Structure begets culture. It defines the processes and tools that determine the frame within which we can interact. 

The thing to remember as we do this is the fundamental human need for connection. For working together. For teams, and teams of teams, to truly be together, no matter how that is eventually shaped. The structure of Scrum, at its core, is framing how we connect, joyfully.

At dinner with my friend, and in discussions at work, a dimly remembered E.M. Forster quote has deeply resonated. “Only connect!”, it reads, “Live in fragments no longer.”