What may have felt like idealism, is now fundamental.
Just a little over 3 months ago, I found myself hopeful of what we could achieve at the start of this new decade. Fueled by an awareness only possible through reflection, perspective and space, my sights were set on identifying a next wave, filled with idealism and hope for a better way forward for business.
That idealism focused on a series of shifts we were beginning to see in business (and a new generation of Founders):
I held a whole lot of hope that, with time, our values as consumers and businesses would evolve. That with the daily efforts of Founders and their teams we could rally, and eventually we’d build better systems, better models and make much needed change.
But with this Covid Crisis these shifts have gone from being ‘nice to haves’, to ‘must haves’. From a form of Idealism to true Necessity.
“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” - Warren Buffett
This shared experience of sudden human and economic interruption, is pulling the water from the shore and revealing the truth beneath the surface.
Chasing the American Dream, we’ve misunderstood economic success as human success, building systems around the wrong metrics: We’ve praised business growth, over the basics of the bottom line; we’ve given over control of our data, attention and privacy to technology all for the ease, speed, efficiency and convenience; we’ve used technology to distract us from reality and to service our every want, while ignoring our needs; we’ve outpaced ourselves with the new speed of life and we’re losing our balance, and connection with each other.
What we’ve done to make business succeed, has not protected our humanity along the way. Our collective focus on financial maximization has left human needs behind, and the ‘human recession’ is no longer a theory. We’re in it.
We are in the middle of a re-evaluation taking place on both an economic(macro) and a human(micro) level.
Our daily lives are marked with a dramatic economic backdrop — unemployment at the highest levels since the 1940’s, stock market circuit breakers, bailout packages, income inequality runs rampant, daily infection and death total ticking across the screen, signals of a long and painful recession, an unknown end and certainly no signs of a viable playbook from government leadership. All macro signals that the systems are beyond broken.
And yet, in some ways it’s been a very human crisis that has reminded us of what truly matters. When faced with adversity and a system that has left our human values behind, we’re able to clear through the noise allowing our humanity to shine: getting back to the basics, reconnecting with the family unit, looking to rebuild ‘the village’, unlocking relatability through shared experiences, sharing humanity from our homes, finding ways to live sustainably, and discovering new ways to commune. With perspective, space and no small dose of desperation, the Covid Crisis is forcing a values reset.
In whatever way we get through this, the world will not be the same. We need to take stock and ask ‘what kind of world do we want?’ and realize we all have a role to play in how we move forward. New systems will need to be built in new ways that reflect these new sensibilities and values. As we accelerate the next wave, which companies will we want to spend time with?…
… Perhaps the ones who define a new value proposition around both business & humanity succeeding.