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Will Your Organization Thrive In The New Normal?

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Rocky Ozaki

To say “a lot has changed this year” would be a massive understatement. The uncertainty we face both short- and long-term has caused us to think differently about how we live and work. One way of thinking that remains relevant despite our new normal is NoW of Work’s four archetypes model. 

Our team designed these corporate archetypes before COVID-19 to help clients understand their level of organizational resilience. Organizational resilience covers a number of things: a strong balance sheet; secure supply chains; and a digital-first approach, but mindset may be the most important element. This model continues to help leaders determine the impact of their current approach, and shows what could happen with the right shift in mindset.

As you continue reading, I challenge you to ask yourself three simple questions:

1. What archetype was your company (team, or even yourself) prior to COVID-19?

2. Which archetype did you naturally become in the midst of the pandemic?

3. Which archetype must you (or wish to) be in the new normal?

First movers

This term has long been used to describe companies that are first to establish themselves in a given market. And while it may seem there is an inherent advantage to being a first mover, there is much debate on whether it’s a good strategy to deploy. 

These companies are committed innovators. In the context of our archetypes, we believe these organizations are few and far between. Companies such as SpaceX are obvious, but I’d include companies who are singularly focused on technologies such as quantum computing and fusion energy

Fast followers

This group includes companies that quickly imitate the innovations of their competitors. So if SpaceX is successful in enabling humans to live on Mars, the fast follower might either start a second colony there (using IP and playbooks from SpaceX), or pursue life on another planet. Let’s get back to Earth. 

Our team believes that fast followers are companies that are agile enough to quickly respond to black swan events, such as global pandemics, minor market shifts, or new technologies. 

Agile companies invest highly in innovation, utilize operational frameworks such as OKRs, Scrum, and are obsessed with both customer and team member experiences. Design thinking, growth mindsets, and hackathons are in their DNA, and they regularly challenge their assumptions.


The vast majority of companies today fall into this archetype. Impeded companies are ones who generally remain agile and shift with the ebbs and flows of work, but have constraints on operating or pivoting at the pace of the fast follower. The most common impediments we see in organizations are an absence of discretionary capital, talent constraints or lack of modern capabilities, and organizational bloat (aka bureaucracy). Having a misaligned executive team, or having unhealthy shiny object syndrome are poor excuses for peak organizational performance. 

In denial

Finally, companies that fall in this archetype are those that are out of touch with macro-economic indicators and tend to be arrogant about the state of their business. These are organizations that believe the world will return to pre-COVID times before 2020 ends and have not yet come to terms with the new normal. At the pace at which the world is moving, these companies will face an uphill battle to survive in the coming years. 

How each archetype will evolve in the new normal

Just like there isn’t a single best way to have a company culture, there isn’t a single archetype that all companies should fit in. But if you’ve identified which archetype your organization falls under, here’s what you can expect:

• The first movers will co-design the new normal with the high-powered fast followers. Others will be challenged to keep up. 

• Those who are impeded must identify their constraints and invest in them swiftly and intentionally. 

• Those in denial may finally have to face the painful truths of their business and challenge themselves to evolve. 

Shifting your mindset can help you realize that your relative definition of what pace, innovation, and agility are should be adjusted. In my next post, I’ll share 5 ways you can adapt the mindset of a resilient organization. Click here to keep reading.

Rocky Ozaki is the Founder and CEO of the NoW of Work, a business transformation firm thats primary focus is inspiring executive leaders and helping them build truly resilient organizations. He’s obsessed with creating frameworks that empower companies to master the art of innovation and agility.

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