Every year we choose a theme that will be a focal point for everything we do throughout the year. In past years, we’ve had Simplify as a theme, where we looked to make everything we did and created as simple as possible. Another year our theme was Relevance, where we intently questioned what relevance looked like and how we could ensure our own relevance as well as that of our member agencies.

Our theme for 2018 is (drumroll please) … A New Normal.

The old normal is dangerous

This great industry has become weak as a result of its past successes. It’s time to make changes to bring back the strength and drive new practices to advise clients in healthier, more operationally sound ways of working. 

Way too many brokers have a false sense of value based on the rich compensation they have been provided. “Growth” initiatives have mostly become a vain attempt consisting of nothing more than doing more of what has been done before, or for the more aggressive planners, becoming a better version of who they have always been. The evolution of value propositions seems to be nothing more than quixotic search to find the next “innovative” product/solution that will magically have prospects lined up.

It’s this myopic view of business growth that has helped lead the industry down the path that has become an unhealthy destination for everyone involved.

But, peeking out from under the cloak of smothering darkness is a faint light that seems to be growing brighter and more intense. There is a growing movement that is providing optimism, creativity, and results we have long coveted, but didn’t really believe existed.

A new category

We no longer have to settle for a better version of what we’ve had, we get to reinvent what our business can, and must, become. It’s time to abandon the limitations we have allowed to be placed on us. Now is the time to embrace a role among a whole new industry category. For the health of the industry, we are committing to do our part to make this our collective new normal.

Yes, a new normal means change. But instead of fighting against it out of instinct, compare what it has to offer to what you would be leaving behind. And, we don’t mean the industry that has left you behind, but the current reality of the industry that has become the smothering cloak.

It’s time to embrace a new normal. In how we run our business, in the solutions offered to clients, in how we get paid, and, dare I say it, in how we help one another.

No time like the present

As this article publishes, we are hanging out with a room full of “new normal” thinkers at our Q4Live conference. And so it begins!

To give you a peek ahead, some of what we believe needs to be included in a new normal:

  • Nothing left to chance – Every agency has a plan of how it will grow, evolve, and embrace a new normal.
  • Transparency – In all directions, but specifically in how you get paid, how much you get paid, and what you do in exchange for that compensation.
  • Strategy – Yours, your clients, and that of those with whom you partner. If there isn’t significant overlap, you shouldn’t be working together.
  • Accountability – You earn business based on the promises you make, you have to self-report on having delivered.
  • Position within a larger community – The traditional boundaries of the industry community have been knocked down and are shifting daily. New competitors will show up from unexpected places; new partnerships will become necessary; other agencies will look less like competitive threats and much more like collaborative opportunities.

The first application of setting the stage for our own new normal is to expand our contributions beyond our Q4i network to facilitate a larger “community.” We are doing this to not only ensure the strength of our own network, but we have to make sure the network and everyone in it are properly positioned in the larger industry community. You’ll be hearing more details soon about this idea. : )

This article isn’t meant to address the New Normal idea in detail, but rather to set the tone for what you will see/hear from us over the year. And in the meantime, I suggest you take some time to think about your own current normal and what a new normal needs to become for you and your team.

Photo by IQoncept

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