The GREAT transformation

We are all about to embark on an adventure. Whether we want to or not.
An adventure is a risky or dangerous journey with an uncertain outcome.

The COVID-19 outbreak was the pin that has popped the balloon that was our economy.
That economy was unsustainable, as the crisis of 2008 showed.
To the surprise of many, that crisis did not change very much the way our society worked, after a few difficult years, things more or less went on the same, with a bit more technology and focus on the online world.

This time is different. Another crisis was coming in any case, but as a result of trying to contain COVID-19, some fundamental things in our global economy broke.

The result? No one knows yet.

We have a range of uncertainty from “we’ll be back on track in a few years” to “what is coming is going to be worse than the Great Depression of 1929”.

What is likely is that some of the paradigms on which we built our lives have shifted for ever.

A paradigm is “A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.”
Basically it is a mental model of how we assume the world works.
It shapes how we see the world, its risks and opportunities.
It is like a set of coloured glasses, which change our perception.

For instance, we assumed for a long time that the way to get ahead in the world is to get a good education, then get a good job in a big corporation at the bottom and work your way up. The underlying assumptions here were:

  • education prepares you for the future
  • a job with a big corporation is “safe”
  • if you work hard enough in a corporation, you are sure to get promoted and make more money
  • live close to work, in an expensive house, but what the hell, it is an investment right?

Note how these assumptions were true for a good long while: starting in the 1960s until it started to break down in the 1990s and then totally shattered in 2008.
With the introduction of new technologies like the internet, automation, outsourcing, the old models are not the best way to look at the world anymore, their models were disrupted by societal and technological change.

Some other models are looking shaky at best after the months long shutdown of the world economy.

  • airlines, already under pressure under the best of circumstances are going to reduce capacity a lot. This means that cheap air travel, at least for the near future, will not be available anymore. In any case, carbon taxes were already underway, so the price of air travel will at least double in the near future.
  • Tourism, which depends a lot on cheap air travel and buying power of consumers, is in some regions the largest contributor to the local economy. What happens if that stops?
  • Just in time supply chains, we have hyper optimized our industry and geared everything to large volume production consumer goods based on ultra-long-range transport. Already we saw shortages in shops of food and essential medicine, masks etc. What happens if our supply chains break down? Will some industrial production come back from outsourcing to China?
  • Real estate market, based on debt-fueled spending and the consumer-based economy. What happens if credit stops and no one has money to spare on anything other than the bare essentials?
  • The Attention Economy, based largely on the marketing budgets of companies in the consumer economy, what happens if there is almost no-one to sell to anymore?
  • Fossil fuel-based energy: what are the consequences when the oil price goes negative? Like it happened in April 2020.

No one knows how all these complex interactions will play out.
One thing is for sure, it will forever change the way things were done for the last 60 years. Some industries might come back, but will be very different than before.
Good or bad, who knows?
That is why it is an adventure.

The paradigms have shifted. What are some of the new assumptions?
This is the tricky part, no one knows for sure yet. Some are visible:

  • with rapidly changing technology and crisis, you have to learn constantly, what you learned in school is outdated
  • most big corporations are doomed, they can’t adapt fast enough to new circumstances, technology and outsourcing have made the optimum size of an organization much smaller
  • Most big corporations, if they still exist, will desperately try to cut costs by outsourcing, downsizing, and doing more with less people. Without redesigning their structures, systems and way of doing things. They become a very bad place to work.
  • It has been demonstrated in a lot of organizations that remote working… works. Why keep living in an expensive city in an expensive house if with a remote job you can move to a smaller city with better quality of life and higher purchasing power?
  • The concept of a job will morph into something else, a lot of people will become freelancers with several clients instead of one employer

Another thing that is for sure is that it will transform most of our current way of life into something else.
That why this is going to be known in a few decades as the great transformation.

Great as in huge.

Can it be great as in good? Maybe.
With every adventure, there are risks and opportunities.

To benefit from the Great Transformation, we ourselves need to transform our life too.
We can’t build our life on the old paradigm anymore.
We have to discover a new one.

That requires we build the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to not just survive this transformation but thrive, that is the reward of this adventure, to build a better life than your old life.

I want to embark on this adventure, and with my website, coaching and videos help you and myself navigate this Great Transformation. I hope to help you make it a Good Transformation.