In the last two columns, our discussion focused on the progression of the black swan event known as the COVID-19 pandemic. We discussed the resulting emotions and economic implications during Phase 1: Dirty Bird and Phase 2: Angry Bird. The third phase of the black swan event was named by my associate, Alicia Morris. The mythical bird known as the phoenix rises from the ashes. Whether it was the American Revolution, Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Great Depression or an assassination, traumatic events result in accelerated change in business and society.
What could be the implications or the unintended consequences in the third phase?
- Expect to observe new leadership to step up with a commitment to move forward. New business models inside and outside of agriculture, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship, may become reenergized, if they are not stifled by huge mega-corporations. Questions concerning consolidation, concentration and government encroachment versus small business will be driven by consumers, society and political forces.
- The possibility of less concentration of production and processing in a business that is optimizing efficiency using just in time management will be weighed against diversification, alternatives, and resiliency. This will result in more energy being used for innovation and “outside of the box thinking.”
- More people will work remotely. Education will become blended with a balance between high-tech, online instruction and high touch, face-to-face meetings. This will impact all institutions from pre-K, grade school and postgraduate to adult education.
- Urbanization of society and globally has been the focus since the turn-of-the-century. This may shift toward more open space and a Renaissance in some of the rural areas, particularly if reliable and affordable internet service is available.
- Individual and personal health monitoring systems will become the new norm. Food, fiber and fuel, the basics for life, will adapt and change to align with proactive and progressive health schematics.
- Big data, but more importantly artificial intelligence, will become accelerated in this next decade. Artificial intelligence (AI) versus privacy balances will be a vision and goal of many successful businesses, companies and institutions.
In summary, while the 20th century had a focus on physics, the 21st century will center around biology. Of course, the agricultural industry will be front and center. Individual and global leadership must use resources, time and money to gain the competitive edge in a world of anxiety. Post COVID-19 should be interesting as businesses and personal households proactively manage through this event for the next possible black swan in the nest.