What if an all-encompassing ‘metastorm’ fundamentally changed the way we live, work and socialise? Jo Caudron asked himself this prophetic question in early 2020. His book De wereld is rond (‘The World is Round’, currently only available in Dutch) was elected Management Book of the Year 2020. It outlines a step-by-step plan for businesses to draw up a powerful plan for the future. His holistic approach has only become more topical in recent months.
The world is increasingly faced with challenges and changes. Just think of COVID-19, climate change, digital and technological disruption, an ageing population, increasing mobility problems, etc. While entire sectors are transforming (or will have to transform), society is changing as well. Our old ways of living, working and moving around have reached their limits. Driving to work, to the shop and back home by car has long ceased to make us happy. All these trends together form a metastorm: a combination of exceptional storms that reinforce each other to the maximum.
The great uncertainties that lie ahead frighten people. They fear that they will lose their jobs, that their (grand)children will have a harder life and that they will have to give up many certainties, such as their pension and the freedom to live how and where they want.
Many businesses are equally uncertain about their future. The American futurologist Alvin Toffler described this phenomenon back in 1970 as ‘future shock’: too many changes in a short time span can traumatise people. If, moreover, each change has an impact on other domains, the tangle seems completely inextricable.
“The whole system is rotten. Get rid of it!” demand more and more angry people, from climate protesters to Trump supporters. But a hard approach rarely yields the desired outcome. When complete systems are brought down, as happened in Libya and Iraq, the situation afterwards is usually regrettable. Moreover, we are ourselves all part of ‘the system’, whether we want to or not. Instead of anti-system thinking, the world needs a ‘New Deal’: a new pact between people, businesses, governments and the planet, argues Jo Caudron.
Such a New Deal does not mean that we change everything radically, but that we will change certain aspects with targeted steps. There will be no revolutions or popular uprisings, but gradual changes across various domains, with new opportunities for people who have been sidelined at some point.
The current metastorm seems to confront businesses with an impossible task. After all, it is no longer enough for a retailer to have a plan for the arrival of Amazon, or for a bank for the arrival of Apple Pay. In addition to the digital transformation, businesses must now prepare for the jobs of the future, new ways of living, a radical change in our mobility ...
The ‘good’ news, according to Caudron, is that many businesses and organisations are still a long way off. They may have already looked at how they can digitise their existing business, but the chance that they already have a real transformation plan is small. This means that companies can now kill two birds with one stone. They no longer need to look for a vision and roadmap for their digital future, but can immediately make a plan for a broader societal transformation, of which the digital component is a part.
In his book, Jo Caudron tries to outline a step-by-step plan to achieve such a vision of the future. In a nutshell, it looks like this:
‘De wereld is rond’, Jo Caudron, Pelckmans Pro
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