We’re still in shock—and will be for a while. While there is no avoiding the effects of the pandemic of 2020, we should feel proud of ourselves because we have been exceptional in finding ways to adapt to what we hope is a temporary reality. We gamely say that what we’re experiencing now is “the new normal,” while hoping with all our heart that this is not true. We always hated clichés about how things always work out, and now we use them as salves to soothe ourselves and one another. We must admit, though, that coping with the present has given us some respite from thinking about the future.
But we know that—like a fast-moving train approaching the next station—we can’t hold back the future. Imagine this train as an old-fashioned one with conductors and porters responsible for accommodating passengers. On this imaginary train there is no hierarchy: conductors and porters all work together according to their strengths.
Wisely, the conductors and porters on this old-fashioned train understand that they need to create different teams to work on different aspects of their dilemma:
- The first team focuses on adapting what always has been done to the current situation in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.
- The second team creates best- and worst-case scenarios of what they may find when they reach the next station.
- The third team has the biggest challenge. They are charged with creating a vision for a preferred future—a future that evolves from impossible dreams and high aspirations.
It is critical that this third team has the capacity to see the positive in the midst of all that seems to have gone wrong. They will use the cataclysmic disruption as leverage to make the kinds of fundamental change that they dared not dream of making in the past. In order to meet the realities of a future in which there are no models, they will make the assumption that processes and structures that led to equilibrium and success in the past are not useful in the new context.
Like us now, this team on the imaginary train barreling into the future, realizes that previous warnings and exhortations about not creating change pale in comparison to the opportunity this pandemic has given us to pursue the “what ifs,” the “why nots”, and the “this may sound crazy, buts…”.
It is possible, whatever our endeavor, that the 2020 pandemic—our ultimate test—is the catalyst that unleashes our creativity and ingenuity in pursuing a vision that will help us create the tomorrow that will be another world.