As McKinsey roles out the “Gartner Disillusionment” graph, I think it is time to look for a new one!

The article “Overcoming pandemic fatigue: How to reenergize organizations for the long run”  in typical McKinsey style is a good read, but have you noticed yet that over time how big consulting companies have framed you to think a certain way.  Like it or not you have accepted their “illustrative curves” and way of thinking. If they frame a story in a familiar way you are going to accept their tried and tested approach.  You have accepted that the old worked and was true so applying it again must make sense.   This saves brain energy and learning time and it is why we love heuristics.  We have outsourced thinking and just accept it without considering.

However,  this overly simplistic movement from one level to another level should be reconsidered in a wider systems approach where one can look at the order of the response (first, second, third and higher)  Below is a graph showing the different order of responses to an input stimulus to force a change in the output to a new level.   The black line is overdamped and takes a long time to get to the new level (normal.)  The green line is the fastest with no over-shot.  The red is faster but has a small overshot and needs correction. Finally, the blue is a super-fast response but we oscillate a lot until we may get hope to get to a new state.

COVID19 responses globally have been blue vs the old government approach that was black.   The old normal was slow, thoughtful, careful but got there. Lots of red tape, compliance, law, committees, proof that added lag or a dampening effect creating a delay.   Many companies in response to a disruption or change are closer to the red response line.   

However, we are now in a long tail of oscillation response from the government to COVID19.  Lockdown, flareup, lockdown, conspiracy, rules, new rules, more lockdown, fire-break, ignore, flareup, capacity issues, vaccine, distribution and logistic reality, new variants and more issues to come.  

Gartner and McKinsey’s graphs are based on the historical acceptance of the old black and red lines of response, slow from government, faster from companies with an overshoot needing correction.  Society would get to the new place after the stimulus but we went through, as Gartner or McKinsey described the different phases.   The original Gartner team to their credit unlocked great insight and it became the bedrock observation of diffusion and reaction.

However. I am not sure that their old model works with with the new oscillating response system we have right now.  @Gartner & @McKinsey it might be time to rethink the model and please can we aim for a better normal not a new normal.