Post-lockdown: stop the simplistic scenarios, be more curious and less binary

In the emerging plethora of predictions about the near future of a world recovering from the corona-pandemic, many people seem to be very certain how this near future will unfold. I am not so sure. Especially if I see how their predictions seem to imply certainties that are not there, or ignore important implications that they did not seem to consider.

Limitations of binary predictions, and alternatives

Local vs Global. For example, scenarios from left to right use the current situation to stress what they “…said all along: the globalised society is evil, and we should stop it and start deglobalisation immediately.”. Meaning: go local all the way, support local farmers, stop importing. Call it the move to a circular, sustainable society with lots of employment for the ‘own’ citizens. Or (!) call it finally getting rid of the dependence of other nations. Self-reliance and nearonomics. All good and well. But don’t forget: it also means: a big push for nationalistic movements and political parties, and abandonment of any sense of international solidarity because it distracts from the national priority. Just look at the nascent discussion about distributions of a vaccin, once it exists…. And: whereas food might easily come from nearby, where do you think the components of your smartphone can be harvested nearby? Waiting until your neighbour is done with his? My alternative: rightshoring. Simple is often simplistic with all the consequences attached to it. Just think a little bit harder about what to source from where and accept that it will be a mix.

Planning, not plans

Because, to me the interesting question is not so much what will the near future bring in response to this particular crisis. The far more thought-inspiring question to try and come to grips with is how to create a resilient society that allows us to quickly play into any (contagion) crisis that might occur. We have some idea now how to respond (more) effectively to the next corona outbreak, even if we would not have a vaccin yet. But what if the next health crisis has different characteristics? For example children are a main vulnerable group that time around, or it is water borne, or moving turns out to be the thing that fights the virus instead of staying put. Or it’s a cyber-virus, disabling all ATMs and digital payment machines in shops? And so on.

Resilience depends on relations, not end points

While it would take a (series of) articles to dig deeper into this, some key features of the Ultimate Resilient society would logically be derived from systems thinking: redundancy (= not being crucially dependent on a particular person, node, piece of expertise), interconnections (= even in times of a virus, the solutions can also be found in people being able to confer and respond in coordinated fashion), adaptiveness on all scales (= response capacity on all levels), no regret arsenal (= measures that make sense in any scenario).

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Chief Curiosity at The New ABC. Always Be Curious and forget “the box” altogether.

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