Those endless hours of commuting. The suburban dullness of our high streets. Offices with less personality than a month of Jeremy Corbyn’s jackets. Brands like Debenhams, Wallis or Harveys Furniture that are soul-destroying enough to make self-harming appealing. And yet, somehow we want to go back to this, or if we bang the word ‘new’ in front of the word normal, to go back to variations on the same theme, this time perhaps with a few more home deliveries thrown in, a few more flexi-work hours to dream about, a few more digital nomading trips to take, a few more dreary bike lanes to avoid being run over on.
In short, nature has presented us with a unique opportunity, not to build back better, but to disrupt differently, reset imaginatively, destroy and recreate awesomely. The New Green Deal? The Next Great Acceleration? The New Next Great Brilliant Circular Economy? If only, but instead, we’ve ended up with the New Normal, or as it’s shaping up to be, thanks to the calibre of CEOs such as Goldman Sachs’s David Solomon, Barclays’ Jes Staley or Cisco’s Chuck Robbins, the same old, same old new normal. These chaps, for the record, have spent the past few weeks telling their workforce that they’re looking forward to having people back at their desks because this is how we learn, how we can build back better. Really? The long commute, the lousy lighting, the limp Powerpoints, the failed 10th-generation ‘media-style’ huddle areas. With visionaries like that, who needs procrastination?
But Covid has oddly enough shown us a way not to build back better, but to build back differently; in the time it normally takes to develop one vaccine we’ve used trans-global collaborations, mixed competitor academic panels, and pioneering advances in bioscience, genetics, data management, predictive analytics, AI, even volunteer testing, to develop six vaccines in record time, along with the scientific know-how to use the same lessons learned and approaches to push on with vaccines for cancer, continue the fight against Alzheimer’s, and even re-imagine age not as an illness but as a treatable, potentially preventable condition.
We’ve also begun the process of re-imagining more optimistically, to follow a new belief and optimism in science. Over the past year more and more headlines have appeared about colonies on Mars, space elevators, flying taxis, compact nuclear fusion reactors, spatial computing, geothermal energy, gene editing, electrical or hydrogen-fuelled planes, even discussions about molecular faxes that can zip us around the world faster than Elon Musk’s planned hyperlink.
Add to this the rise of metaverse retailing and crypto-economies, decentralised financing (DeFi), and Natcore cities, Mirrorverse planning and Chief Disaster Officers who are trained to see positive change in seemingly insurmountable challenges, and we are in a world that is far from normal, and beyond new.
It’s a world, as we’ll see in our latest Trend Briefing, of the New Extra-ordinary; one that captures the optimism of tomorrow, and accelerates us forward to the now or never, rather than backwards to the nine to five.
Join us at our Trend Briefing 2021 online event on 25 March where we will show you how to navigate the inter-Covid era and beyond with three new mind-expanding macrotrends.