14 episodes

NORMAL:
Characterized by what is considered usual,
Typical
Routine
Expected

It sounds safe and staid.
But our NORMAL, usual, typical, expected, routine – turned
Chaotic, dislocated, disorderly and out of control when COVID 19 hit us.

The pandemic sent the world reeling, forcing us to shut down economies, forcing us to recalibrate our NORMAL, forcing us to confront the WHAT’S NEXT? What’s next for jobs, for education, for families and our health and well-being.

This podcast ponders how we will live in this COVID era. What’s on the horizon? What should we expect? Where are the opportunities?

Our hosts, Lisa Taylor, President at Challenge Factory, Dave Hardy, President, Hardy Stevenson and Associates Limited, Sarah Thorne, President and CEO, Decision Partners and Ujwal Arkalgud, Chief Anthropologist & CEO, MotivBase explore "what’s next" in the NEXT NORMAL.

The NEXT Normal Dave Trafford and iContact Productions

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

NORMAL:
Characterized by what is considered usual,
Typical
Routine
Expected

It sounds safe and staid.
But our NORMAL, usual, typical, expected, routine – turned
Chaotic, dislocated, disorderly and out of control when COVID 19 hit us.

The pandemic sent the world reeling, forcing us to shut down economies, forcing us to recalibrate our NORMAL, forcing us to confront the WHAT’S NEXT? What’s next for jobs, for education, for families and our health and well-being.

This podcast ponders how we will live in this COVID era. What’s on the horizon? What should we expect? Where are the opportunities?

Our hosts, Lisa Taylor, President at Challenge Factory, Dave Hardy, President, Hardy Stevenson and Associates Limited, Sarah Thorne, President and CEO, Decision Partners and Ujwal Arkalgud, Chief Anthropologist & CEO, MotivBase explore "what’s next" in the NEXT NORMAL.

    Lessons learned during COVID: Creativity is Currency

    Lessons learned during COVID: Creativity is Currency

    In this episode of The NEXT Normal, we wrap up season one with a focus on where the pandemic created bright spots. What conversations happened because of our young people? What impact did they have? How are we now facing gaps in our education systems? Our co-hosts share the positive lessons they’ve learned through the pandemic and through this series.
    Decision Partners President, Sarah Thorne kicks off the conversation and says there remains a lot of unanswered questions as we move forward from our pandemic experience. However, we’ve learned a lot that we can take forward through creativity, with clear purpose, and to work collaboratively to tackle the big issues. 
    Sarah [00:03:22] “We really need to enable and encourage system thinking because certainly the pandemic has taught us that all of these things are interconnected. Mother nature has been telling us that for years.”
    Lisa Taylor, President of Challenge Factory, goes deeper on a question from episode seven, ‘What do we want the future of work to look like?’. Whether we’re discussing workplaces, the environment, food security, health equity, the list goes on, it begins by having a seat at the table for everyone, facilitating dialogue- including with our grandchildren- some of the most imaginative minds available.
    Lisa [00:06:29] “There's a concept of, ‘Nothing for us without us.’ It starts within certain demographic groups and certain disadvantaged populations that says, don't create programs for us without including us. And we can certainly apply that to an age lens as well.”
    Ujwal Arkalgud, cultural anthropologist, CEO and co-founder at Motivbase, elaborates on the idea from episode 11 that we don’t need to mythbust rather we should embrace the new myths to learn better lessons. Using surfing as an analogy, he suggests leaders ride the wave of the new consumer beliefs and understanding coming out of the pandemic and use it to find a new way forward.
    Ujwal [00:10:15] “One of the things that we teach when we go into these organizations is to figure out what are the areas where you don't have control and one of those areas is how myths, ideas about anything and everything in culture develops. There's very little control over that. And certainly brands cannot dictate that and certainly politicians cannot dictate that. So then the question becomes, okay, so what do we do about it?”
    Following the thread of going with the flow, Sarah says we’re not going to solve problems of the future with solutions of the past. 
    Sarah [00:12:57] “I think it's the same thing with education and policy-making, we need to be thinking about, we need to put on our adaptive management brains and we need to combine it with a passion and a commitment to continuous learning because there's no check-the-box solutions.”
    We started season one with meaning as currency. Additionally it’s become clear that creativity is also currency as we move forward. Urban planner, Dave Hardy is President at Hardy Stevenson and Associates believes there are two very important positives that have come out of the pandemic.
    Dave [00:14:37] “We need to open up our minds and allow that creativity to come in. I see two areas of better coming out of COVID. One is senior care, the vulnerable care. We need to do a much better job there but COVID has shown a light on that, unfortunately. We need to do a much better job in designing our cities. We have vacant office spaces. We redesigned public spaces and places of gathering. So that has been a result of COVID as well to have forced us to think, how do we be creative and make that happen?”
    Ujwal suggests that no matter the subject we’re talking about there is one underlying, positive theme.
    [00:15:52] “I mean, the big thing that I've learned, I think just going through this series is that there is an underlying message of optimism in everything we're talking about. And I think the pandemic has actually made us more opt

    • 27 min
    COVID Has Created a Global Climate Experiment

    COVID Has Created a Global Climate Experiment

    In this episode of The NEXT Normal, we look at the big picture of energy and environmental considerations post-pandemic with a focus on the opportunity ahead of us. What has shifted in the minds of the consumer? What are we missing? Where should we be looking next? Who is obligated to respond?
    Urban planner, Dave Hardy is President at Hardy Stevenson and Associates sets up the episode by stating how COVID has created a global climate science experiment.
    Dave [00:04:23] “Who would have thought, 18 months ago that we could say, well, what would happen to climate if we took all the cars off the road, if we removed the airplanes from the air, if half the Western workforce worked from home for 18 months? And the results that I can see from the climate scientists I follow is that there's been a global fall in carbon emissions of 21% below 2005 levels. And the ozone layer is starting to repair.”
    Ujwal Arkalgud is CEO and co-founder at Motivbase. As a cultural anthropologist he says the research is showing another positive that has come out of the pandemic. The distinction between good technology and bad technology and how it’s slowly becoming clearer in the mind of the consumer. The old “boogeyman” narratives are on their way out.
    Ujwal [00:08:03] “I'll give you one example, the realization that we can now use technology to effectively reduce our reliance on certain types of fossil fuel, especially nuclear technology, as an example, is seen in a slightly different light now because the meanings around it, as long as we talk about technological innovation, the meanings around it are very positive.”
    Lisa Taylor, President of Challenge Factory, says we all need to be in the sustainability game including career development and workforce strategy firms and that there are two dynamics that are pushing companies to make changes; market opportunities and the desire to highlight sustainability as a core value through certifications such as B Corp.
    Lisa [00:15:01] “... Core to how they operate, [companies] think about these things and they demonstrate the impact that they're having. And I think that as we look at the number of companies like ours, that are pursuing B Corp certification, or whether it's other levels of certification and qualifications, it's also transforming the work that gets done inside of the companies.”
    Decision Partners President, Sarah Thorne says they’ve recently completed development of engagement framework for the Army Corps of Engineers to involve people in a way that is purposeful and meaningful to them so that they contribute to solutions that address climate change.
    Sarah [00:19:09] “We are what we measure and what we're seeing is that corporate social responsibility is actually being replaced with more comprehensive Environmental, Social, and Governance, ESG it's called, measures. And these are really, really important because they're elevating the social measures, including stakeholder and community engagement, dialogue, co-creation. They're elevating those to the same levels as financial and climate change reporting.”
    Next week we’ll wrap up season one of the series with an energized conversation amongst our co-hosts on the topic of Education, Youth and Creative Empowerment. Collectively setting up the future for generations to come and confidently taking steps towards The NEXT Normal.
    Have comments questions or ideas for our hosts? Feel free to drop us an email at hello at StoryStudioNetwork dot com.
    If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to SHARE it, RATE it, and SUBSCRIBE to the show!

    • 28 min
    Challenging outdated career thinking

    Challenging outdated career thinking

    In this episode of The NEXT Normal, we confront ageism – particularly in the workplace. Lisa Taylor, President at Challenge Factory debunks two myths about older workers. Whatever we call our ageing workforce, Lisa shudders when we refer to it as the “grey tsunami”.
    Lisa [00:03:39] The grey tsunami, my least favourite phrase for this very normal and very positive demographic trend that we are living longer. It casts such a negative light into the concept that we have added years of engagement and productivity and relationship building. It makes it seem like it's a disaster that's happening instead of a triumph.”
    North America’s traditional retirement age of 65 was set in 1935. It’s worth noting life expectancy in that year was 62. Today, life expectancy is closer to 83.
    Decision Partners President, Sarah Thorne says our collective perception of ageing assumes seniors are all vulnerable. And that’s not entirely true.
    Sarah [00:09:44] In times of change, times of uncertainty, what determines how seniors can respond are the social determinants of health, not age. So, we can't simply assign a number and say, this is the age where we need to retire or, as a company I used to work for called it, decelerate.”
    Ujwal Arkalgud is CEO and co-founder at Motivbase. As a cultural anthropologist he says we can’t just wait for or rely on policy changes. It’s up to each of us to force a shift in culture.
    Ujwal [00:20:40] “People themselves have to change how they think about their careers. They have to change the ideas that they have been born and brought up with. There’s a massive cultural shift that is also necessary because as long as you have people flocking to buy anti-aging products, taking Botox injections, as long as you have…these kinds of narratives…there is no one way that this is going to change.”
    Urban planner, Dave Hardy is President at Hardy Stevenson and Associates. Four of his recent hires are in their 70s. He says they not only bring experience and historic perspective, they bring a sense of values to the workplace.
    Dave [00:22:43] There's a set of values and a work ethic that's really important in the senior population that I think still needs to kind of trickle down into gen Zed, like: spelling counts when you produce something, showing up to work counts, you know, talking to your boss and not your friends count. All of these things aren’t filtered down. They need to, and that's why I hire people in their seventies.”
    Have comments questions or ideas for our hosts? Feel free to drop us an email at hello at StoryStudioNetwork dot com. 
    If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to SHARE it, RATE it, and SUBSCRIBE to the show!

    • 26 min
    Whose responsibility is it to build a better normal?

    Whose responsibility is it to build a better normal?

    In this episode of The NEXT Normal, we explore the changing nature of the American social contract and the decisions we entrust to our leaders. What does it mean to lead post-pandemic? Whose responsibility is it to build a better normal? And what can we expect from leadership moving forward?
     
    In the last twelve months, today’s host, Ujwal Arkalgud, CEO and Cultural Anthropologist of MotivBase, has been inundated with questions and conversations with C-suite executives about the changing nature of the American social contract and the challenges experienced by members of the workforce.
    [04:27]- “I wanted to set the tone by just explaining what the American caste system really means, not from an academic standpoint, but really means to people, to the average American that's. You know, learning about this and talking about this, uh, it's really about the ability for all types of workers to have. The forum to advocate for themselves to have the same privileges that others might have to be able to stand up, raise their hands and say, no, I will not do this, or no, I need better. Or, here's what I need in order to do my job better and there's an increased recognition of the fact that there is a huge divide…”
     
    Challenge Factory President, Lisa Taylor, presents the analogy of putting together a puzzle versus solving a mystery for how we can reframe what needs to happen within the current social contract.
    [13:31]- “Instead, we're leaning on what Sarah referenced earlier more of the scientific model, which is to say we're on pursuit of solving a mystery. We have questions of what's going to unfold and we're trying to solve the mystery and we're looking for clues along the way. And not every mystery gets wrapped up really neatly. And we may not actually have all of the answers that we need. So the leadership that we have to have has to trust that we're going to be able to do the right things. and our people need to be able to trust that, together, we're going to continue to solve this mystery without feeling like we have to give what's the picture on the front of the box and here's the six steps of how we're going to get there.”
     
    Leaning into the theme of trust in our leaders in the environments we’re in including the workplace and where we live, Sarah Thorne, President and CEO at Decision Partners, shares the three key questions from her world of risk assessment and decision making and how it could impact the public’s trust in leadership.
    [18:10]- “I think if we could get people to think more broadly and, in terms of our leaders, not focus so much on communicating the absolutes, the whats, but get people thinking about the ‘so what’ and the ‘now what’, we'd be a lot further ahead.”
     
    Urban planner Dave Hardy, President of Hardy Steveson and Associates, believes that the trust issue runs very, very deep but it is possible to build trust in corporate and community leadership.
    [18:29]- “I'm constantly trying to get people to trust that something's going to happen 25 years from now. And that's a hard communications piece. So I share and tell with my spokespeople, politicians, corporate leaders, I said there are two things you want to get across about trust: First, the public trust your values. They don't know if you're competent, you quite know what you can do, but they do know you're going to make the decision they would. The same way they would had they been you. The second is they may not know who you are, but they trust your competence. So you could be a misanthrope, but they know you're doing, you're competent to do the right thing. And if you, as a member of the public had that information, they would make the same decision based on that information that you would.”
     
    In next week’s episode of The Next Normal, Challenge Factory’s, Lisa Taylor builds on the discussion around the shifting and changing social contract and explores the outdated career thinking that society is exp

    • 28 min
    Artificial Intelligence isn’t as smart as you may think.

    Artificial Intelligence isn’t as smart as you may think.

    In this episode of The NEXT Normal, we’re in a better place today than we were pre-COVID. In fact, co-host Dave Hardy, President and CEO of Hardy Stevenson and Associates, expects things to improve even more.
    [00:06:10] Dave Hardy “I'm excited about the future. We'll have cities with lower energy consumption. We'll be able to educate people better in terms of how to sustain our natural environment. We even could be able to create smart streets that do their own snowplowing. So, I'm optimistic that the next normal will be a very positive.
    All of Dave’s optimism hinges on the accelerated development of new technologies, particularly those driven by artificial intelligence. He says the pandemic pushed governments and industry to reassess the role of tech in our daily lives. That’s meant being able to educate our kids and run our business from the kitchen table.
    [00:05:25] Hardy “If you have a cell phone or an iPad, anywhere on the face of the planet, you'll get a first-world education, access to a doctor and you're able to run a global business.”
    But the buzz about technology and AI creates concern in some quarters. It raises the spectre of machinery replacing humans in the workplace.
    [00:07:03] Ujwal Arkalgud “It's a real fear at the moment. And in particular, a real fear for those once again, who are older, who are less privileged.”
    Ujwal Arkalgud is a Cultural Anthropologist and CEO at Motivbase. He says artificial intelligence is artificial.
    [00:07:52] Ujwal “It's really not that intelligent…We're at least 50 to a hundred years away from true intelligence from anything artificial. So that term is a bit of a mis-characterization of technology…So what does that mean? It means it can allow us to do things better. It can allow us to use our brains better.
    Essentially, this emerging technology is a companion. But Lisa Taylor, President at Challenge Factory, says we’ve also created a culture of “technological determinism.”
    [00:09:50] Lisa Taylor “We spend all of our time talking about the technology and what's going to happen with AI. And that's because we have this sense that now that it exists, we have to use it right away. So not only is it not ready to be used, we don't have to use it right away. This is where our own humanity and our own desire for what we want to see for our own societies really needs to kick in.”
    The use of tech and AI needs to be purposeful, part of the plan – not something pursued as “bright, shiny objects.” Sarah Thorne, President at Decision Partners, says we miss the opportunities if fail to ask the right questions up front.
    [00:11:10] Sarah Thorne “What do we want to be? What do we want to have? How can we be more inclusive and where can we use technology to help us get there. I think it's really about the future. It’s really about coming together and figuring out what our shared values are and what we want to create going forward.”
     Have comments questions or ideas for our hosts? Feel free to drop us an email at hello at StoryStudioNetwork dot com. 
    If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to SHARE it, RATE it, and SUBSCRIBE to the show!
     

    • 27 min
    New Skills Development in the NEXT Normal

    New Skills Development in the NEXT Normal

    In this episode of The NEXT Normal, we myth bust some of the assumptions and outdated ideas around career and skill development. What do we need to foster in our workforce now that we’ve gone through this experience? What have we discovered about education and training? Have retirement expectations shifted? Are there new skills gaps to address?
     
    Today’s host, Challenge Factory President, Lisa Taylor, kicks things off by highlighting the assumption that that older workers were going to struggle the most with the rapid shift to working remotely. As it turned out it was the younger, less experienced workers that faced greater challenges in adapting to working at home. The divide between who needs what in terms of skill development was amplified during Covid.
    [04:44]- “It's not the hard skills of, ‘How do I use a technology?’ that really makes a difference. It's how do I communicate? How do I relate? How do I have empathy for my colleagues? How do I know what's happening with them in a way that's more on emotional connection?”
     
    Sarah Thorne, President and CEO at Decision Partners, points out that the way we’ve approached skill development and training the workforce has always been very top-down- telling workers which skills they need to have to be employable. Sarah believes we’d be much further ahead if we engaged the workforce to determine what they need to be successful.
    [07:43]- “I think what we've seen in the last 15 months is that people have really come to terms with their own skills, their abilities, what they like to do, what they don't like to do, and where they want to spend their time.”
     
    Ujwal Arkalgud, CEO and Cultural Anthropologist of MotivBase, examines how the stigma of learning online has shifted to support skill development online as an acceptable avenue to develop new skills presenting unique opportunities that don’t always exist in the traditional learning environment.
    [15:40]- “If I'm 60 years old, I don't have to learn from a 25-year-old who doesn't have my experience, the challenges I experience. I can learn from another 60-year-old, who sort of faced similar circumstances, has had to learn new skills later in life to keep their careers going, to manage paying for their kids' education or whatever else that might be. And I think that's the positive coming out of the pandemic.”
     
    Entrepreneurship in Canada often faces a cultural barrier. It is often something to be pulled back from, the last resort. Urban planner Dave Hardy, President of Hardy Steveson and Associates, likens the Canadian versus American culture around starting your own business to lobsters in a pot.
    [22:32]- “And, to me, that's the Canadian-US dilemma here. We just don't teach entrepreneurship enough. I'm a member of a service group, Rotary, and we take some of the brightest kids for a full weekend, kind of sabbatical, and introduce them to somebody beyond a teacher. That's what they want to be because that's the only people they see. So, to me, we have an awful long way to go to do that entrepreneurship.”
     
    In next week’s episode of The Next Normal, Dave Hardy leads the conversation from skill development to post-Covid technology and fostering an environment for innovation. We touch on Big Data, AI, accessibility, sustainable technologies e.g Smart Cities, and more.
    Have comments questions or ideas for our hosts? Feel free to drop us an email at hello at StoryStudioNetwork dot com.
     
    If you enjoyed this episode be sure to SHARE it, RATE it, and SUBSCRIBE to the show!

    • 30 min

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