2020/04/09

The Other Side of the Coin – Part II

Die Kehrseite Part II

by Kay Freiland

People are looking at the current crisis from widely different perspectives, but two camps are beginning to emerge. As usual, there are those who see the dark storm clouds gathering and those who believe they see the first rays of sunshine coming through. Matthias Horx, the trend researcher and futurologist, falls more into the latter group. He has no intention of endorsing wide-eyed optimism; that's too great a simplification for him. In his view, the key issue is confidence. And as I see it, that hits the nail on the head – confidence!

Resilience: what we can do better

Many people in my professional and personal surroundings generally cannot see beyond the risks and problems that are still ahead of us because of the crisis. And, of course, there are countries and people for whom the course of this crisis is nothing to be taken lightly, and we must not forget that. So I can understand people’s frustration very well.

We live in an age in which we do not yet have all the tools that allow us to predict crises with any degree of accuracy, but the possibility of a crisis of this magnitude has always been real. There have also been plenty of prophets warning of a pandemic like the coronavirus crisis. And yet, virtually no companies were prepared for this massive upheaval in our present lives, especially in terms of the economic effects. The required resilience is non-existent, as if we had never believed that this disaster could happen to us.

We know a lot about the future, but we neglect to keep in mind just how much we do not know. In his book The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote that we undoubtedly know a lot, but are by nature inclined to think we know a little more than we actually do. This narrow gap is often enough to get us into serious trouble from time to time. We are overconfident in our knowledge and underplay the level of uncertainty by limiting the range of possible instabilities.

Experience: what we can learn

There can be no doubt that we must take the lessons we have learned and the conclusions we have drawn from the crisis and work through them, enhancing our resilience and seizing any opportunities that now appear. And this is exactly why we need confident people who can make constructive contributions to the shaping of a better future. And could it be, just possibly, that the coronavirus crisis is steering our lives in a direction that they needed to go, anyway? Admittedly, that is a huge helping of confidence. But when we walk through the empty streets of our cities and across the empty squares, it feels – to me, at least – more like a new beginning.

Confidence: what we need now

The Italians making music on their balconies, the applause for the helpers in the crisis, the satellite images showing the industrial areas of China and Italy suddenly free of smog, and the elephants in India who can hardly believe their good luck at the sight of the empty streets – all this is changing us somehow.

Our lives being turned topsy-turvy may give us the courage to initiate changes that would have been unthinkable just a few short weeks ago. We can now toss away excess baggage and tackle the things we have been avoiding for a long time. There is a Chinese proverb saying that those who live in turbulent times have great fortune. Well, we are living in turbulent times! The coronavirus has disrupted many of our companies and business models. This can be turned into something valuable – reason enough for confidence!

 

The original article appeared on 8 April on LinkedIn.

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