Lillian Ngala

Welcome to a Brave New World and the New Normal

Welcome to a Brave New World and the New Normal


Before 2020, you must have heard what had always been said: the only constant in life is change. And for the past three months though, you have seen it, experienced it, felt it. It’s now time to embrace it.

Indeed, with more countries relaxing their quarantine protocols, things are about to get back to… No, not to normal. Or at least not what we knew to be normal. The most affected player in this? Businesses.

Luckily, McKinsey seems to have come up with a foolproof plan for business survival post-pandemic: Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination, and Reform. Call them the ‘Five Rs’.

Companies need to have a resolve on the scale, pace, and depth of action required at the business levels should a resurgence or another crisis occur. Resilience is crucial with solvency and against the predicted upturn of established industry structures, resetting competitive positions forever.

There should also be a return-to-work framework after a severe shutdown, which may involve reactivating a company’s entire supply chain and reassessing business models.

Human Capital

Of course, companies will also have to reimagine their way of doing business, how to use technology, as well as a means to guarantee efficiency and productivity even when employees work remotely.

Finally, there needs to be reforms to restrict some factors that helped to make the coronavirus this catastrophic.

Therefore, business leaders need to anticipate, contribute to and support changes to government policies and regulations to avoid, mitigate and pre-empt such a crisis.

All these factors revolve around one thing: human capital. Your company’s resolve will only be effected by people, whose resilience with your return-to-work formula will be tested. They are the ones to facilitate the reimagination of the ‘new normal’ and carry out the reforms. It’s all about the people.

Take, for example, a recent survey by Consumer Insight Africa, which revealed that about eight in 10 Kenyans believe working from home is ineffective and that they are less productive there.


For a company to prepare for the next similar emergency, it ought to do something about this mentality. Training on workplace agility has to be done and staff motivated to work from anywhere while maintaining the desired output levels.

If that can’t be done, then it has to rethink its operating model and build it around how its staff work best.

There is not much you can do without goodwill among your staff. Such is the power of human capital and that is why it needs to be taken care of first.

Up next should be technology adoption. No doubt, this disastrous situation could have been worse if not for the collaboration, productivity and fintech tools at our disposal.

The shift to cashless transaction has kept the economy on its feet and most businesses running. E-commerce has facilitated transactions and internet infrastructure enabled working from home.

Learning, reskilling and personal development activities have increased as people seek competencies vital for the ‘brave new world’.

Operating Model

If all this was possible before and during the pandemic, you can imagine the impact of technology now that the case for mass adoption has been made.

These factors should pave the way for a rapid-fire agile operating model that is focused on clear key performance indicators and speeds up decision-making. It should be built around the people and supported by the right processes and governance to make the most out of productivity and business development efforts.

Not just as a necessity, but the official way of doing business. There will be a lot of trial and error, but with time, adaptability and dedication to the cause, everything will turn out alright.

Ladies, gentlemen and businesses, welcome to the brave new world, a new normal.


This article first appeared in the Daily Nation on May 31, 2020

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