The next normal arrives when a new system replaces the old system in both its role and its opportunity as the preferred one to use.

A “system” occurs when a set of interacting items routinely take on a certain group behavior:  each of a critical number of elements acts, both consistently and persistently, primarily through their interactions with each other.

The routine behavior (i.e. the form) of the system occurs when the system is in a state of dynamic equilibrium, not just static configuration.

When a routine behavior consistently takes the place of a predecessor, the newer routine becomes the next “normal”.

In the next normal, new interacting patterns among the system’s internal elements are both more sustainable and more preferable than are preceding patterns.

The next normal occurs when two things happen.

One: an alternative system’s effectiveness becomes statistically predominant over an older system’s effectiveness. The difference may occur by force (causality) or by choice (attraction), leading to its potential predominance.  Impacts are the outcomes of interactions. Impacts are identified by types, not by levels. They can be forces, states, or objects. Effectiveness is the influence of the impacts.

Two: an alternative system becomes a candidate for “normal” because the compatibilities of its internal elements are more likely to persist than the incumbent system’s. They become persistent on a case-by-case basis, eventually reaching a critical mass of collective presence. The origins of the persistence may also be either authoritative or opportunistic.

Influence, however, may be circumstantial; and presence may be episodic. In both cases there must be a reason why the older system is vulnerable enough to be replaced.

An organization such as a company, a market, or an entire community can be a system… A system’s supportability is particularly sensitive to priorities. Priorities typically relate to competition, cooperation, or cohesion — the level of interaction on which changes originate. As support factors, those interactions correspond approximately to advantage, competency, and protection — the measured variables representing the priorities in the system.

Changes underlying the priorities have upstream influence.  Within a system, one’s own actions and the actions of other parties have consequences that either reinforce or undermine the priorities.

The Next Normal -Vulnerability Factors


Variations in inhibitions and encouragement alter support of the priorities; priorities support the compatibilities of system elements. Therefore, variations of the underlying factors potentially changes the equilibrium and the further predominance of the system. That change will invite a renovation of the system or deference to another (successor) system.

The most likely instigator of change is demand. The pressure of demand comes from how it amplifies some priorities at the expense of others. Then:

  • If demand alters the behavior of an organization, it may affect the equilibrium of related systems.
  • If a system becomes unstable, alternative interactions can find success and instigate rearrangement of elements within and around the originals, to favor new preferences in demand.
  • Consistent support of new interactions can mature into making the alternatives the next normal.