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.
In my ongoing search for signals that point to potential futures, I both stumble upon great insight, or am made aware of it. When it’s the latter, I wrestle with how much to share. I use the value of the insight as my decision criteria, and in the case of this smart city infographic, I am compelled to share. However, this insight (and all other signals) must be viewed through the lens of the current pandemic. What, if anything, is impacted as a result of changes in human behavior? For example, will the projections of mass urbanization hold, or will fear of living in dense areas reverse that trend – essentially serving as an obstacle? Does the city revenue shortfall accelerate the march towards a Next Generation of Productivity? Does a growing appreciation for science shine a light on climate change, thereby accelerating the focus on sustainability?
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.
“The best leaders are constantly learning, curious about where they made mistakes and actively looking for areas where they might have it wrong”
“Every so often, we learn something new that rewrites all of what we have come to know and trust. In those moments, our foundation of knowledge crumbles—and with it, many of the beliefs that we have built on top of it. Those transitions are hard because we do not easily let go of our beliefs”
– Jeff Booth, The Price of Tomorrow
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.”
Amy Webb joined Daniel Levitt on his Inside The Newsroom podcast to discuss various aspects of COVID-19 pandemic. Amy is a quantitative futurist. She interprets data to help governments and businesses plan for the future. She’s written three books — The Big Nine, The Signals Are Talking and Data, a Love Story. In 2006 she founded the Future Today Institute, her consultancy firm that models what the future might look like. Amy also teaches an MBA course on strategic foresight at NYU, is a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center, cofounder of Spark Camp and contributing editor and tech columnist and Inc. Magazine, among a host of other notable positions and achievements.
Enjoy the Podcast.
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.
The COVID-19 crisis is fast-moving with information bombarding us in real-time. On this Tuesday morning, as we awake to more isolation and rising numbers, there is much to consider across every domain. Some like Enrique Dans are writing about the changes coming to Education. Issues like a drop in school attendance, obsolescence of teaching methods, technology barriers of entry to education, and an aversion to face-to-face interaction are likely to change education as we know it. As it is with every domain, institutions, academic directors, teachers or students who are unable to adapt will simply have no place in this new scenario. As a new normal emerges, educators are likely to revise their teaching methods and evaluation approaches, among other things.
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’ve said in an earlier post, predicting life after pandemics has been a fools errand. Futurist Amy Webb described it this way: “Any time a new change is foisted upon us, very quickly there is a bias to thinking that the new present is the future. That is almost universally never the case.” Many Futurists and other thought leaders are providing their thoughts on what this post-pandemic world might look like. In an article focused on The Unexpected Consequences of the Pandemic, author Bryan Walsh says that we know COVID-19 will fundamentally alter the world, but those changes may not be the ones you expect.
What might a post-pandemic society look like? In a Recent Post, I attempted to address that question by taking a journey backward to a similar time; exactly a century ago. What does a backward journey have to do with a post-pandemic society? The answer lies in a famous quote:
“The further backward you look, the further forward you can see” Winston Churchill
My colleagues (Kevin Mulcahy, Rose Rodriguez, and April Harris) created a video that captures the Blog Content: A journey to the past, and then a look ahead. You can find other videos that focus on a reimagined future on this YouTube Channel.
While the immediate focus of our global health crisis remains on the present, as we approach the other side, many will focus on a post-pandemic future. Painting pictures of possible futures was already critical in this time of rapid change; the pandemic elevates the urgency. I have been sharing the perspectives of many global thinkers in the interest of providing foresight to those who will need it when the focus shifts. A virtual session focused on a post-pandemic society is being planned, and I will likely participate. In discussing that possibility, I was presented with this Article.
COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on China’s economy. Jenna Ross at Visual Capitalist describes how the effects on their economy could foreshadow what the rest of the world can expect. While China turns the corner on the health side of the story, the economic side is telling its story. This Article via the World Economic Forum uses visualization to tell this economic story. Countries in the early stages of the outbreak should take notice.
The Advisory Board Company released some great information about the current pandemic. This Webinar provides a great deal of statistics and content in the area of strategies and impact. The content from the webinar is also available via PDF. They address the top questions Here on their website. In a Must Read section, they provide additional information.
This is some of the most comprehensive content I have found to date on COVID-19. I highly recommend it.