Prognosticators continue to point to massive shifts in the aftermath of COVID-19. In this recent Article, author Bhaskar Majumdar explores an aggressive convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Pointing to the domains that have already converged – education and entertainment – Mr. Majumdar sees this phenomenon overwhelming all aspects of our lives. In the near future, he sees it impacting banking, medicine, trade, shopping, dining and sports. As we come to terms with social distancing in a post-COVID world, some level of change is inevitable.
A recent Report on artificial intelligence (AI) suggests that COVID-19 is not likely to slow the path of AI. Per the report: nearly three-quarters of businesses now consider AI critical to their success, as it continues to grow in importance across companies of various sizes and industries, according to a new report. Appen Limited’s 2020 State of AI Report indicates that two-thirds of respondents do not expect any negative impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on their AI strategies.
Much has been said about the shift to remote work. The permanence of the shift remains to be seen, let’s assume however that this forced experiment has been successful enough to warrant an increase in remote work percentages. What are the implications of this shift? This recent Article authored by Patrick Gray explores two possible implications.
“The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.” Klaus Schwab – Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
Way back in 2010 when I launched this Blog, its purpose was to focus on reimagining. What will the world look like in twenty years? Ten years into that journey, the word reimagine seems like the right choice. The quote above from Klaus Schwab captures it well. While the pandemic may indeed serve as a catalyst for reflection, reimagining, and an ultimate reset, we have been here before – only to return to the status quo.
How can we find the signal when there is so much noise? We don’t have an effective way to predict what will happen next, history tells us that. We do have a way to understand what happened when crisis has occurred in the past. In a piece titled A Post Pandemic Society, I explored the somewhat scary similarities between modern day and the world of a century ago. In a recent Article authored by Robert Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, he takes a similar look at two events during that period.
In a virtual roundtable hosted by C-Level on May 14th, we used several polls to gain insight on how people are thinking about the post-pandemic world. The topic of the roundtable was “Rehearsing Post-Pandemic Futures.” I posted the results of the First Poll earlier. You can participate in that poll by visiting the post. The second poll that we launched during the session probed the question of human behavior post-pandemic.
I had the pleasure of participating in a virtual round table hosted by C-Level on May 14th. The topic was “Rehearsing Post-Pandemic Futures.” I did 30 minutes of presentation which included poll questions. It was followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. Vanessa Foser, Chairman of the Board at C-Level AG, was the host and moderator. You can view the virtual roundtable via video below. I will share the various poll results separately in future posts.
One of the perks of my role is the interaction I have with leaders around the world. Thursday of this week, I had the pleasure of participating in a virtual round table hosted by C-Level. The topic was “Rehearsing Post-Pandemic Futures.” I did 30 minutes of presentation which included poll questions. It was followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. I want to share some of the insights of the session over a series of posts – starting with a poll that we positioned at the start of the presentation, and then again at the end.
COVID-19 continues to expose pre-existing issues. While our human development has undeniably advanced through each phase of the industrial revolution, more work remains to be done. The first industrial revolution delivered mechanization – and yet 600 million people still do not benefit from it. The second revolution brought us sanitation, clean water, and electricity, and yet 3.6 billion people still lack one or more of those innovations. The third revolution brought us the internet and all things digital – and yet 3.7 billion people do not have access to the Internet. This Article by Douglas Broom states that the majority live in poorer countries, where the need to spread information about how to combat COVID-19 is most urgent. The issue was there, now it is likely to get more attention.
In an earlier post on a Post-Pandemic Society, I took a look back in history to a period a century ago. That journey focused on similarities to our current day. That same post summarized a post-pandemic future as viewed through the lens of several global thinkers. Although history provides a guide, and prognosticators a point of view, pandemic Implications will evolve over years and across multiple domains. How the world Responds is yet to be determined – and predictions of major change after past crisis have largely been off the mark. How then do we find the signal through the noise? By Connecting a lot of Dots on an on-going basis.
In a recent Forbes Article authored by Stephen Wunker, he uses the principles of innovation adoption to test the stickiness of behavioral changes driven by COVID-19. He applies six tests of a new behavior to see what will last. He states that not all six factors need to be met for a behavior change to persist, but the mutually reinforcing nature of the factors create a stronger impact as more get involved. He applies this framework to assess potential commercial change for the Life Science industry.
This recent Article describes those things that will change forever according to 30 top experts. Before I dive into that, a significant word of caution. In an Article authored by Rob Walker, he states that most post-pandemic predictions will be totally wrong. While he stresses that thoughtful speculation about the future helps us cope with the present and identify potential challenges and opportunities, history tells us that most predictions will be wrong. In looking back at predictions post 9/11 and the great recession, Mr. Walker provides supporting evidence for this statement.
A general theme throughout my posts on COVID-19 is that many of the cracks that the pandemic has exposed were already there. This theme is described eloquently by Economist Tyler Cowen in his work on The Great Reset. He uses a metaphor of canaries in coal mines to describe the warning signals that represent greater and broader stress. In the past week, I’ve seen multiple references to dead canaries knee deep in coal mines. In a recent New York Times Article authored by Neil Irwin he echoes this sentiment:
“But one lesson of these episodes of economic tumult is that those surprising ripple effects tend to result from longstanding unaddressed frailties. Crises have a way of bringing to the fore issues that are easy to ignore in good times.”
Prior to the pandemic taking over all our cycles, I was focused on assessing how society would react to several emerging scenarios. Using polls, I asked questions about connecting our brains to the Internet, reuniting with a deceased loved one, or attending a hologram concert of a deceased artist. I was suprised by the high percentage of respodents that were against these emerging scenarios. Please participate in those Polls, as I am still interested in your thoughts. More importantly, I have to wonder what COVID-19 does to future responses to these questions. For example, delivery robots were seen as a joke, fad, or nuisance in some places pre-pandemic. According to this Article by Roberto Baldwin, it may be finding a way into public consciousness as an important tool to combat the spread of coronavirus. Delivery robots helped deliver food and medicine in Wuhan China during the coronavirus-related quarantine.
The rapid emergence of new scenarios that once seemed like science fiction serve as a testament to the Acceleration that the world is experiencing in this exponential era. COVID-19 introduces another variable, one that serves both as an accelerant and an obstacle. There are many examples of the virus serving as an accelerant – many of which I have written about over the last several weeks.
There are many conflicting views emerging on the timing of an economic new normal. Regardless of the source, all of it at some level is speculation. There is too much uncertainty to do prediction justice. That doesn’t mean that talented prognosticators can’t take a shot. This great Article from MIT Sloan Management Review is a must read. Author Alec Levenson argues that it will be a long time until an economic new normal. Some of his rationale is summarized below:
It was late 2013 and I was thinking about the transformation that digital would eventually drive. In a Series of Posts on transformation, I laid out my early thinking about forcing functions and related enablers. One of those enablers was Thinking Differently. In this Article authored by Jeff Haden, he describes the viewpoints of best-selling author Simon Sinek:
“These are not unprecedented times. There are many cases — lists of cases — where change, or something unexpected, has put many companies out of business, and made other companies come out stronger and reinvent themselves. The invention of the Internet put many, many companies out of business. The ones who could not reinvent themselves for the Internet age but rather doubled down on the old way they did business.”
As I mentioned in yesterday’s Post, rehearsing the future has never been more important. In that post, I focused on the implications of COVID-19 across a broad set of categories. In a complex and uncertain world, to sense and respond is critical to managing towards constructive outcomes. In this case, to sense is to have a view of potential impact. Responding – in all its various forms – shapes the future. How might the world respond to a pandemic that threatens to reshape that world? This slideshow capture the full sense-and-respond exercise. As is the case with a See-Rehearse-Adapt philosophy, this exercise is never done. Here in this slideshow are the possible implications and potential responses. Let’s connect a few dots.
In my post yesterday, I mentioned that post-pandemic perspectives are emerging for every domain. These signals help us evaluate what world emerges after the crisis. I referenced using an implication and response framework to rehearse this emerging future. In looking at future scenarios, I have found this Rehearsing to be very instructive. When I speak of rehearsing, I am talking about understanding possible futures. Rehearsing allows us to analyze the implications of scenarios and their potential paths. The figure below demonstrates an exercise focused on assessing the implications of the autonomous vehicle scenario. Rehearsing allows us to look at the breadth and depth of a scenario – and in most cases, the implications are broader and deeper than we realize.