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Looking forward to the next new normal

Looking forward to the next new normal

It’s hard to believe we wrote our last blog entry only four weeks ago and talked about face to face Workshops as if they were a normal everyday occurrence…
Fast forward to the current situation and we all now have a shared experience of the VUCA world - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.
We’ve probably also experienced the feeling of trying to decide what to do when we don’t know what to do … 

I came across this piece from McKinsey recently (thank you to Paul Mathews) and I think it’s a really useful way to consider how we might move forward from here.
McKinsey’s answer to ‘the path to the next normal’ is a call to action across five stages, leading from the crisis of today to the next normal that will emerge after the battle against coronavirus has been won: Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination, and Reform.

I have been using this personally to consider how RSVP Design can respond to what might be the next ‘new normal’ for a supplier to the learning industry, and hope I can offer our customers, partners and others some suggestions in moving forward (and becoming better learners). In my humble opinion, it’s the better learners who will cope best with the next new normal.

Here are my suggestions on how to move through these stages, and some examples of how we are applying them right now.


Determine what you need to do now to survive, and resolve to do it.

If you have been using experiential learning to increase engagement and effectiveness of your face to face learning programmes, what can you offer your clients or learners now?

  1. If your groups are small, can you send them materials they can use in their own homes? Can you send one set of Challenging Assumptions pieces in advance of the coaching call with your client, or send the components to each team member you were going to use in that now-cancelled shared group activity, and simply run it using video meeting technology like Zoom or Google Hangout/Meet? (Workstations could work perfectly for that). If they are not all getting together at one time now can you direct them to some resources they can use themselves away from the computer screen? Could you use Learning Loops to create some knowledge tests that will improve learning? (Neuroscience tells us testing is a great learning tool).
  2. If you need to redesign your face to face programme to be entirely virtual, can you use some existing tools now? We’ve created an online version of Workstations that is now available to be used to provide an engaging virtual experiential learning activity. If you and you co-designers or clients have iPads then download the Storyline App and use it to build rich dialogues in the way you would with any image-based card deck. Can you get someone to deliver part of that live virtual experience for you? (contact us – email [email protected] )
  3. If you don’t know what to do, then consider accessing some expertise. We are available to provide coaching support on an individual basis in relation to any of our products, or indeed any experiential learning design issues. See Product Coaching Support

We have already accessed new online simulations and other virtual Workshop materials than we can deliver now – contact us and explain your current challenges.


Realise that this is not a short-term glitch. We will all need to dig deep over the longer term. Resilience is also key to becoming a successful learner – accept that you will struggle to cope with some of the changes that are happening now, and that this is normal. Learning new ways of working is difficult. You will not return to being the same person you were prior to these experiences.

  1. Recognise where you can offer your learners support in building their resilience. Signpost them to some free resources: https://courses.ei4change.info/courses/the-authority-guide-to-emotional-resilience.
  2. Distribute some resources directly to your team that they can use to reflect on their own individual challenges, or deliver prepared content Workshops to groups on the Resilience theme. See Images of Resilience or Building Personal Resilience Workshop.
  3. Accept that this will take some time and keep people together and connected as best as you can – here at RSVP Design we are working on a weekly live Zoom meeting check-in despite some of the team being furloughed, while at the same time having separate weekly new product development plan updates. This week we tested our new online version of Simbols and plan to launch that next week. Our internal team participated in the training from home.


Look ahead to what you will need to do to get things restarted, or to slow down if you were one of those who had to go into overdrive. How will your customer base likely to have changed? How might you need to develop your own skills or network? How will you remain visible to your marketplace?

Here are some ways in which RSVP Design is thinking about the Return

  1. We believe the new normal will still require learning and training programmes to be effective and engaging. Simply presenting content via video conferencing will not be enough. We expect to return to a new normal whereas many of our tools as possible will be able to be delivered remotely, physically face to face, or a combination or both.
  2. We are now working hard to develop new online versions of some of our tools that still follow our design methodology – Simple to facilitate, Relevant (to the learning outcomes), Versatile, and Practical (focusing on the learners ‘doing’ something).
  3. We are continuing to ship our physical products during this crisis (I have the luxury of being able to ship from my home) and we will continue to keep in touch with our customers, partners, suppliers and others to maintain our relationships.


Imagine as best you can what a post-COVID-19 future will look like and how you can thrive in that future. What might be different in your learning sector post-COVID-19, and how might you adapt to deliver what is required? What new opportunities might it bring when this current phase has passed?

  1. We have realised there are some advantages to facilitating virtual meetings that are unavailable in live settings. One is that they are easily recorded for later review. We know that spacing and repetition can be useful aids in learning. A second advantage is that as trainers/coaches/consultants etc. we can potentially be invited as observers into real live virtual work-based meetings – that if often difficult in the physical work environment. Are there new ways you can offer consulting support in relation to virtual meetings? If you have an iPad download the Colourblind App and use it alongside a virtual team meeting now to help individuals improve their communication and teamworking skills in future. What other tools or techniques might be useful? Could you develop them, specify their requirements to someone, or use them?
  2. Use tools and techniques to help your customers build innovation skills now. Consider running Workshops on the subject using materials like the Breakthrough Thinking Workshop. Practice them by applying them to your own business Reimagination now.
  3. Consider planning how you might thrive in the future with competitors, suppliers, customers and others – use a planning tool like Voyage Mapping and invite some of those people to join with you now to co-develop this. At RSVP Design we have already accessed some new products from others and can offer these to our clients already – if you are interested in having your team participate in an online simulation then get in touch.

If you have ideas for new products we could help you develop, market or deliver then get in touch.


Start shaping and reforming yourself. What can you learn how to insulate yourself from future shock? What can you learn now that will help you thrive in the next new normal?

  1. Have you considered what type of role you will play in the ‘next new normal’? Will you plan to move from being an independent contractor to an in-house trainer, or the other way? Do you need to start reshaping your business now and either consider removing or adding functionality and expertise? What might that mean in business planning terms? Start developing several versions of your budgeting and planning processes now.
  2. Learn to be a better learner now. Consider looking at some of the research around what makes a good learner – see https://www.elli.global/ and consider offering your learners materials that can help build their ‘learning power’ – see https://shop.rsvpdesign.co.uk/learning-to-learn-package-7-modules.
  3. Take stock of your own expertise and strengths and seek input from others. Use tools like At My Best Strength Cards or Experience Explorer to reflect or self-coach, and consider whether you might use them to help others do the same?

It’s clear that everyone in our Company is also trying to learn fast right now – please keep in touch with us as we will be publishing ideas, discussions and new products as regularly as we can. It will take us some time so please bear with us, and if you have any ideas, suggestions, or specific requirements then please get in touch.

However, you decide to approach moving towards the next new normal, stay safe, be positive about the future, and concentrate on what you can affect.




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