In exploring a Post Pandemic Society, I first took a look at what we could learn from history. A recent article took a similar view. Written by Kevin Sneader and Shubham Singhal, Their Look Back at History explores the experience of Japan, the United States, and Western Europe, post-World War Two. The article explores the inclusive growth that was sustained for two decades following the war. As technologies developed for war were adapted for peace-time use, poverty, government debt, and inequality fell, while living standards improved and prosperity spread broadly.
This research on the likely acceleration driven by the pandemic is a must read. Per their Website, Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas is a full-service, bipartisan government relations firm whose partners and principals have decades of political and policy experience. The presentation is U.S. centric and a little heavy on politics. However, it captures many of the issues that are converging across multiple domains (business, society, science, technology, environment, philosophy, economics, and geopolitics). I believe it captures one of the most impactful aspects of the current COVID-19 crisis: the acceleration of forces that were already in play. It is a quick walk through of the following topics:
In looking at a Post Pandemic Society, I took a Journey to the 1920s and 1930s to understand what history might tell us about our emerging future. I have been amazed at the eerie similarities between our present day and that period a century ago (see visual below). If anyone is interested in exploring the cycles of history, I highly recommend the book The Fourth Turning. In the meantime, this recent Article explores a similar comparison to that time in history with a focus on deglobalization. Per the article:
“The post-pandemic world economy seems likely to be a far less globalized economy, with political leaders and the public rejecting openness in a manner unlike anything seen since the tariff wars and competitive devaluations of the 1930s.”
The final polls from our virtual roundtable hosted by C-Level are included below. You can view a video of the virtual roundtable Here. I posted the results of polls One, Two, Three, and Four earlier. You can participate in those polls by visiting the posts. The fifth and sixth polls launched during the session probed the questions of digital learning and the resilience of supply chains.
A recent Article by Bryan Walsh explores the human development enabled by a post-world war two order. To avoid a repeat of the turbulence of the Thirty Year period that began in 1915, this post-war order was established. Institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations (UN), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were formed. Despite an occasional spike of violence, the article reports that the absolute number of people killed in war and conflict has been declining since 1946.
It has been my desire to tell stories; to paint pictures of possible futures. Any story-teller would marvel at the amount of possible futures evolving from the current crisis. I have been a fan of the book the Fourth Turning because of the compelling journey through history that the book takes you on. Stories of crisis that emerged every 80 to 100 years like clockwork; and the reshaping of the social order that followed. It has been a little over 80 years since the last world altering crisis emerged. World War Two qualifies as an event that reshaped the social order when it was done.
Although it’s now popular to ask how life will change after the Coronavirus pandemic, truth is we were already on a path towards massive change. Nationalism was already a growing movement, immigration was already a hot button issue, the world was already moving towards a Post-World War Two order, the negative impact of globalization on jobs in developed countries already had leaders promising to bring manufacturing back, while automation promised a jobless era of localization. The pandemic serves as an accelerant in some instances – and an obstacle in others. But let prognosticators be warned; past predictions of life after pandemics have not Gone Well.
UPDATED 3:00 March 19th: one of my Blog readers pointed me to this article titled Whatever the virus kills, it won’t be globalism. Since I am a big believer that Predictions are a fools errand, this walk through the bold post-pandemic predictions of our past is instructive. This point of view says that sounding the alarm on the death of globalization may be a bit premature.
There are many questions that require answers as we look towards a new normal post the current pandemic. One such question centers on supply chains and the globalization phenomenon of the past three decades. Multiple forces were already threatening the globalist agenda. From the rise of populism and associated tariff wars, to the advancement of automation and other innovations, the move towards localization seems inevitable.
In a recent book, Richard Baldwin takes us on a fascinating journey to the past, and then provides a peak into the next great transformation. In The Globotics Upheaval, Mr. Baldwin describes a cycle that has played out multiple times throughout human history. The cycle of transformation, upheaval, backlash and resolution (Let’s call it TUBS) was experienced each time the world entered periods of major disruption. Mr. Baldwin introduces the Globotics Transformation as the third great economic transformation to shape our societies over the past three centuries. As he describes, the first was known as the Great Transformation started in the early 1700s, and it switched societies from agriculture to industrial and from rural to urban. The second started in the early 1970s, shifting the focus from industry to services – the Services Transformation. I take a different view of transformation in the context of Tipping Points – but the cycle is the same.
Knowledge is the engine that drives human development – and it has been throughout history. Knowledge expanded in the hunter-gatherer days with the invention of fire. In those days, a human obtained all its food by foraging. Although the source of food did not change, fire allowed humans to cook food and consume more calories. The human brain expanded with this caloric increase, and soon we invented language – the first in a series of innovations that drove the growth of knowledge.
It’s been over a year since launching an Online Course focused on a complex and uncertain future. The course takes a Journey through the Looking Glass – a metaphorical expression that means: on the strange side, in the twilight zone, in a strange parallel world. It comes from the Alice and Wonderland literary work of Lewis Carroll, where he explores the strange and mysterious world Alice finds when she steps through a mirror. I have always found this to be a perfect metaphor for our times.
Every time the looking glass has appeared, the world has experienced a Tipping Point. While I firmly believe a tipping point is coming, the impact is likely a question of severity. Some believe that we have survived similar economic transitions in the past, while others disagree:
Globalization could be entering its third act. In a book titled The Great Convergence, Author Richard Baldwin describes the three constraints that have limited globalization: the cost of moving goods, the cost of moving ideas, and the cost of moving people. The first two acts of globalization occurred when the cost of moving goods and ideas dropped. While globalization raised the standard of living in several developing economies, the third constraint limited the breadth of impact.
In his closing chapter, Mr. Baldwin explores the possibility of a third act. This act is driven by dramatic advancements in areas that address the third constraint. If the cost of moving people were to drop, developing nations like South America, Africa, and others could be the beneficiaries of this third act. How will the cost of moving people drop? What advancements enable this third act? In his closing chapter, Mr. Baldwin touches on enabling innovations and their fascinating potential. Here is a brief look at these innovations: