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The New Norm

Scott Peltin

At Tignum, we think a lot about the future. We wonder how the current demands on top talent can continue to grow. We wonder how the human physiology, which was never really designed for our current business demands (time travel, multi-tasking, information overload, shift work, constant unrelenting demand, growing complexity of issues, ambiguous goals, constant change, etc.), will be able to withstand these changes. We realize that the discussion of how to maximize the energy, resilience, mental agility, and stamina to be able to meet the growing demands of business is still in its infancy. It reminds us of the discussions around strength and performance training in sports only 30 years ago. There were those who hung on to the belief that an athlete either had it (the power, the speed, the agility, the focus, the talent, the drive, etc.) or they didn’t.  Today we have well proven and accepted strategies for developing almost all of these elements of success.

There is a lot being written and discussed lately in business about the New Norm.  Much of this focuses on the impact of the global markets, social media, technology, and the collision of a new and old generational version of values. At Tignum, we discuss the New Norm from two perspectives: 1) How will the external performance killers change? and 2) How can we help the critical 1% leaders and their teams exceed these performance killers to deliver great results (for the short, medium, and long term)?  In 2007, Sylvia Ann Hewitt published an article in the Harvard Business Review describing a rare breed of workers that had what she termed “Extreme Jobs”. She described workers who worked long hours, under significant pressure to win, who were available to their clients and co-workers 24/7, and were rarely disengaged from work. These workers ran on pure adrenaline and caffeine and often burned out early in their careers.  In April 2010, Heike Bruch and Jochen I. Menges wrote an article in Harvard Business Review about a new phenomenon they named the “Acceleration Trap”. They described a trend they were seeing where not only did individuals burn out, but companies were burning out as well.  Forced by a global recession, these companies were overloading and multi-tasking their talent at an unsustainable pace of expectations that they called the “Acceleration Trap”.

Today, these aren’t called “Extreme Jobs” anymore - they are the “New Norm”. The speed of the “Acceleration Trap” isn’t a temporary acceleration to meet a crisis - it has become the “New Norm”. This year we are working with some cutting edge companies who won’t accept the “New Norm” of creating short term success by grinding their critical % to the bone. Together we are creating a “New Norm” where leaders support their critical 1% teams like the franchise players that they actually are (top talent is needed everywhere). We are changing the way the work is done. We are changing the work environment to be more conducive to producing great results. Most important, we are changing the way these executives approach and prepare themselves for their work (and their time away from work). Unlike sports, we don’t have 30 years to figure out how to exceed the demands of the “New Norm” of business.  As we develop and implement specific high performance strategies to different critical 1% teams, we will keep you posted.  So keep your eyes on this space. 

At Tignum, 2012 isn’t just another challenging year for business. It isn’t just another year of political grandstanding with theoretical solutions to our economy. To us, this is a quantum leap year where we tackle the external and internal performance killers that destroy the full potential of great leaders. This is the year where we create a “New Norm” where the Sustainable High Human Performance element of business isn’t just a nice to have, it’s a strategic must.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts and solutions for the “New Norm”.

By Scott Peltin
Founder & Chief Performance Officer