12 Jul A word from our MBA Captain: New normal will be quite similar to the old
In December 2019, I attended a couple of theses defenses and evaluated students’ projects on how their organisations could become more agile, as they had identified a lack of pro-activeness. Not even three months later, many organisations proved to be very agile. My own school went from 100% face-to-face education to 100% online education within two days. It was not perfect after two days, but it worked and it got better and better. In addition, I see the same response in many organisations and firms. But are we getting to a new normal that is better than the old normal?
In my perception, our response to the COVID-19 crisis showed that we are agile. However, that we are also resilient to new circumstances. If under external pressure we adapt quickly and we can even learn to live with the virus. But in the end the human is a group animal.
Like the bonobo apes who deflea and pet each other to maintain the social fabric of their groups, humans also need physical contact and interaction for their well-being and to feel togetherness, community, brotherhood and communality. This week I returned to our new Tapijn Maastricht campus and how great it felt to see my MaastrichtMBA team and the UMIO management team. After four months I wanted to hug them all, but I behaved according to the corona rules. A day later, we had a face-to-face defense of one of our students. Half an hour before her defense she entered the room, looked at me and said: “I am so happy to see you, can I hug you?” Within milliseconds thousands thoughts crossed my brain – how would a refusal affect her confidence for the upcoming defense, what is the risk of hugging, is it legally allowed? I stepped forward saying ‘’this is a meeting between two members of two households and officially the 1.5m rule does not apply” and we hugged each other. It felt good and maybe that short hug contributed to her really good defense.
Dealing with the pandemic requires a lot of discipline and responsible behaviour from us. I myself will follow the rules. Nevertheless, I also reserve the right to deviate responsibly from the rule, as any society worth living in needs a substantial dose of empathy and love.
I look forward to seeing you in August, September and November, because even with 1.5m distance the contact, the empathy of a face-to-face meeting will be much better than a zoom meeting.
Stay safe and be responsible.
Your Boris Blumberg, MaastrichtMBA captain