This is my 5th or 6th global economic recession.
I think I’m starting to get pretty good at trying to manage my mindset. Because back in my old life when I spent my time on stage – just over a month and a half ago – my running joke was that I couldn’t walk on stage and say, ‘your future sucks!‘ I’m paid to be an optimist, and at times like these have to work extra hard to keep that optimism properly fertilized.
That said, I must force myself to seek the signs of optimism. Here’s a clip from a keynote in 2009 in Salt Lake City: I’m speaking about the attitudes and perspectives that causes people to freeze during an economic downturn, and why it is important to try to move forward, and think about the future and recovery.
With that in mind, I think it’s pretty obvious that what we are witnessing right now will lay the foundation for the acceleration of a variety of different trends. The art is trying to figure out which ones stick. Off the top of my head, these are a few of the things that I am thinking about right now. The world shifted in March 2020, and the impact will be felt for a long, long time. Some of what we might see unfold will include the impact of these trends.
- A new wellness awareness. At least for those who think science is a thing. The rest of people? Well, let’s just say their reality TV show doesn’t end up so well.
- Acceleration of younger people into skilled trades and other professions. Just before this started, I keynoted the American Truck Dealers Association. One of their biggest issues was a shortage of younger people going into the trucking industry. Now, truckers and other folks are heroes for keeping supply chains open and food in stores. There might be a profound mind-shift underway in how we think about particular skills, trades and professions.
- Faster evolution of last mile delivery and supply chain technology. There’s lots of talk about using drones and other tech to solve some of our challenges. This just might speed up those initiatives.
- Faster product reinvention. I’ve long preached that companies need to tighten up their ability to change faster when it comes to new products. Now, many organizations are discovering that on a real time basis with the production of masks and ventilators. Expect that lessons being learned here will have a lasting impact on their agility and flexibly when it comes to new product design and launch.
- Closer to home agriculture accelerates. The world has realized that the cost savings that come from extended supply chains are awesome, but the challenges are not Supply chains shrink as a result – and the concept of ‘local’ starts to have a real impact as habits developed during the lockdown – of supporting local product, meats and more – has some lasting effect.
- Privacy / security rights are given up. We’ll have to give it up as a part of the process of recovery – cell phone location data will help us to pinpoint brushfires of new pandemic risk on a very discrete basis. It will go well, and no so well, but it will be a part of life.
- An extremely slow recovery in extended travel. The collapse of oil prices and the decimation of the airline/tourism industry will be a long time coming back. We can’t go through months of avoiding people on the streets, and then suddenly find it acceptable to pack into tight spaces with hordes of people. The psychological impact of social distancing will be pretty profound.
- Acceleration of close-to-home travel. The flip side of above!
- Sophisticated reality filters become the new tech giants. Some new Google or Facebook type startup realizes that the path to opportunity is not found in more connectivity, but better connectivity. Just like filtered playlists on Spotify became the go-to source for new information, editor-curators who help you find the real science and other information that takes on importance become of great value.
- Poll based virtual democracy takes flight. A prediction of mine from my document ’25 Trends for 2025′. Out of necessity, regions and countries are going to have to pick up greater speed to support virtual elections and more. Just as I write this, Boris Johnston put out a tweet of the first ever Zoom based UK cabinet meeting. The world is changing fast – this pandemic is driving forward the faster adoption of new concepts previously held as heretical.
Will any of this come about? Who knows – the mind boggles at the speed and scope of what is unfolding. Just as I was finishing this post, my Twitter feed featured an article from The Guardian, “‘We can’t go back to normal’: how will coronavirus change the world?“, which was indeed a sobering read on what might come next. Far too many people are spending far too much time trying to comprehend what comes next, at the same time that we move through the shock of what has occurred.
This paragraph in particular caught my attention:
Trying to imagine the future given the scope and speed of change is staggering, but I’ll continue to give it a try.