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It’s the End of the World As We Know It

February 9, 2021 by Twan van de Kerkhof

The American band R.E.M. sang: “It’s the end of the world as we know it”, adding: “and I feel fine”. We are currently still in the middle of a health and economic crisis, but people are getting used to it; they feel fine (more or less (at least those that have the privilege to live in comfortable circumstances)). In March 2020 nobody knew what hit us; now everybody is carrying on with their work in a situation that would have been unthinkable only a year ago.

This has been a hypothesis-busting crisis, for example by showing that business can continue even if many people are working from home. Nearly all of the work is getting done despite the dire circumstances. People have proven to be capable of much more than many had anticipated; they are resilient. Materials change when they come under pressure and so do people. The crisis has forced all of us to adapt our mindsets.

Covid-19 has been a digital accelerator for organizations and an accelerator of connectivity. More collaboration amongst different parts of organizations emerged because it was easier to link people virtually. Ecommerce got a firm push as well as internal digital services, for example for HR.

The big question is if Covid-19 will change the world as we know it in the long term. Some things will definitely be different: less business travel, more often working from home, accelerated digitization, rethinking supply chains. But will it lead to a system change like WW II, the fall of the Berlin Wall or 9/11? Will we look back at this crisis as the start of the Great Reset?

This is the first leadership lesson drawn from 36 interviews about leadership during and beyond corona. Send us a message if you wish to receive the paper with all eight lessons.