We’ve seen cycles come and go—everything from music trends that emulate days gone by to past decades of fashion making a comeback.

It is evident that cycles are all around us. As a business leader, how do you turn cycles into your advantage, and better yet, what industries will benefit from cycles in the coming years?

Within my Anticipatory Organization Model, I emphasize the importance of identifying both Hard Trends, future certainties that will happen, and Soft Trends, future maybes open to influence.

Hard Trends and Soft Trends sound similar to the concept of cycles, don’t they? That’s because they are! If we begin with Hard Trends, a future certainty means we know it will happen. For example, we know the sun will rise tomorrow morning, we know spring follows a bitter cold winter, and we know a brisk fall follows a blisteringly hot summer.

On the other hand, Soft Trends are merely details that we can influence. The Hard Trend that the sun will rise tomorrow comes with the Soft Trend that we can choose to do something specific with the day that comes with said sunrise or choose where we travel to when that warm summer follows a mild spring.

Understanding how Hard Trends and Soft Trends can be leveraged in an anticipatory way is integral in leveraging cycles to our advantage, and this skill set is even more important now that we have begun a “new normal,” in our current world.

Positive COVID-19 Cycles

Now that we have been through a global disruption like the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses and business leaders have been distracted. No business was more disrupted than in-person, brick-and-mortar businesses.

Whether it was a movie theater chain or a family restaurant, COVID-19 halted growth in a seemingly insurmountable way for many who rely on physical customers walking through their doors.

But the good news is that cycles exist, just as sure as Hard Trends and Soft Trends exist! During the days of the global lockdown, I reminded everyone that these times will end; we will exit the days of COVID-19 and mask wearing. However, we have now witnessed something many of us never imagined: a global pandemic and quite a hit to the economy.

While that sounds disheartening, fear not! Not only will the economy bounce back; we are likely going to see a huge boom in those in-person, brick-and-mortar businesses. Actually, this was heading our way regardless of COVID-19, as seen with Amazon moving toward opening its own brick-and-mortar shopping centers. Now, it has been accelerated.

Having been kept from patronizing in-person businesses for the most part, customers are craving human interaction. As we bounce back, people are going to visit their favorite restaurants, try new ones, be open to travel, and want to stay in hotels again. Coupled with COVID-19 fatigue, does this mean people will throw their devices away and revert to the days prior to digital technology?

Absolutely not! Disruptions are going to increase, so as a brick-and-mortar business leader, you must be anticipatory in how you will stay ahead of the curve.

The Both/And World

We live in what I call a Both/And world, where the Internet of Things (IoT) and connectivity have allowed us to have both in-person and digital aspects to just about every industry, whether it’s a vehicle that has autonomous features and can be driven by a person or a company that has machines performing repetitive tasks while its human workforce works with said machines.

As an increase in patronizing in-person businesses becomes more popular than ever before, there will be just as much a need for you as an owner to find ways to implement digital technology in your customer experience.

For example, people have gotten used to the convenience of working out at home and not having to drive to a gym. If you are an owner, this poses a problem: How do you get those customers back? How about having your own Uber, for which gym goers can add a flat fee into their memberships to use an app that calls them a ride to the gym or perhaps a free feature on said app that facilitates a carpool option. That way, you ease them back into leaving the house to come to your facility.

We are in an era of rapid change, so it is important to pay attention to cycles, or Hard Trends and Soft Trends, and foster your own anticipatory mindset about how to transition back to normalcy as a brick-and-mortar business owner. It is a definite Hard Trend that individuals will return to brick-and-mortar businesses they were restricted from during the pandemic like never before; however, the convenience of digital technology is not far off their minds, so find a way to live in a Both/And world, and bounce back better than before!

Originally published here.