The pandemic is demonstrating the extent to which high levels of collaboration are required for deeply interconnected societies to manage—and recover from—complex, exponential systemic crises. The fact that viruses are borderless is just another reason why humans need to invest in dramatically re-tooled principles and mechanisms for global co-operation.Sanjeev Khagram – Why coronavirus will accelerate the fourth Industrial Revolution
Historically, when society has entered a new era, the world has transformed. I believe we are in the early days of a transition to a new era. A major difference between this era and previous eras is the connectedness of our world. That means managing the transition is more complicated. No one nation or organization can ensure a smooth transition. Much like the accelerating shift to multi-stakeholder ecosystems requires collaboration excellence, the path to a future that enhances human development depends on global cooperation.
Crisis could be the catalyst that forces global cooperation. In a recent article, author Sanjeev Khagram mentions that populations of living organisms tend to experience a significant amount of evolutionary change in short, stressful bursts of time. This theory of punctuated equilibrium was proposed in 1972 by biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge. Rather than a constant, gradual process, it occurs during episodes when species are in environments of high tension or crisis. Enter COVID-19. The article explores the acceleration of our evolution, brought on by crisis – something that I explored in the early days of the pandemic.
Our current crisis coincides with a renewed focus on purpose, as summarized in the visual above. There are a number of drivers that are making this current iteration different than the corporate responsibility efforts of the past. Activist investors are driving board attention towards social issues, while recent generations share in that focus. Increasingly, financial institutions are emphasizing purpose, as trillions of dollars move towards causes like net-zero carbon targets. Society is another driver, as issues like inequality, racism, and immigration get the headlines. Two drivers on the visual are key, and tightly linked to the discussion of cooperation. Major and rapid advances in science and technology afford us the opportunity to solve our greatest challenges – but they also provide the means for a destructive path forward. It will take these multi-stakeholder environments to solve these grand challenges – and to cooperate in ways that ensure a constructive path forward.