One Year After the Great Reset: Same Storm, Different Boats

By  |  March 10, 2021, 4:05 PM


A year ago, I wrote an article here at Techonomy welcoming you to The Great Reset, warning of historic economic disruption if we didn’t “flatten the slump” of unemployment, business closings, and municipal failures. (A few months later, the World Economic Forum chose the Great Reset as its theme for the year.) And we all began living through a Phase One drop off the economic cliff into a world of relentless uncertainty.

Today, depending on the Venn diagram of your country, industry, organization, team, health, and personal situation, you are either in Phase Three, with your life rebuilt. Or, you are stuck in Phase Two, riffling along the bottom in a fever-chart of some work and no work, or maybe hoping the life preserver of government subsidy will keep your financial head barely above water. As I said a year ago, as history is our guide, this kind of reset leaves many behind, especially low-wage workers and those in rural areas.

The differences in our lived experiences have been stunning. Many tech companies grew insanely richer, while tourist-dependent and socializing-dependent hospitality businesses and jobs cratered. Programmers reveled in agile-fueled distributed teams, even as hospital workers were hammered by seemingly-endless and exhausting emergency care caused by rogue waves of exponential infection rates. And the stock market, as if intent on demonstrating its psychopathic disconnect from the society in which it’s supposedly anchored, posted record gains.

Perhaps most predictable and most devastating, the fragility of our industrial-era approach to mass education was laid bare. Those with connectivity and connections thrived in the class-zoom and in local pods, while those without them lost a year of learning that will be all but impossible to replace.

“Same storm, different boats,” the Nordic saying goes. Yet far too many people had no boat at all. To paraphrase William Gibson again: We already have abundance. It’s just not very evenly distributed.

Eons ago in January of 2020, the future of work and learning was largely Theory. By April, it had become Practice. So what have we learned in the past year of forced adaptation, for individuals, organizations, communities, and countries?

Image: George Desipris

As societies from New Zealand to China achieve their new abnormal through a twitch response to any hint of the relentlessly-varying virus, and as economies rebuild depending on their own Venn diagrams of economic conditions, we need a new mindset geared toward inclusively managing ongoing change. Whether I’m zooming with a group of high school students in Burundi or a global conference of business executives, I hear the same question on everyone’s lips: What next?

After a hundred lectures and interviews last year, I still have no crystal ball. But here are some of the emerging strategies we can synthesize to help everyone continue to weather the storm, and to prepare for the next one, no matter what boat they’re in:

The Great Reset has given us our new start date. But the mantra hasn’t changed. No human left behind.

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