• Richard Spitzer

For now, only the “bad guys” can save us!

Updated: Jul 1

Our planet, society, and institutions face more challenges than at any time in history. There is a convergence of threats that will have negative and irreversible consequences if not stopped and reversed. But the critical challenges still offer opportunities for both the greater good and economic prosperity, if a new approach to priorities and choices are embraced.

Prior to the the Covid pandemic I had been reading and writing about critical trends that require immediate attention. Each cause has its own supporters who believe theirs is the #1 priority, but all the critical priorities are connected and by the competing forces of economics, politics and to quote another writer, “the failure of imagination.” As of Spring 2020 I had my top six critical trends – and now they have all converged into the proverbial perfect storm by the emergence and “failure of imagination “-preparation and leadership for the pandemic crisis. The urgency and severity of the trends have increased over the past few years. Since the 2016 election, the change in political priorities, economic concentration, and social and political conflicts have propelled the issues to dangerous levels, and hard to reverse without first inflicting severe damage. But, they have now fallen behind the urgency of the pandemic solution, but will influence a pandemic solution. My six critical trends:

  1. Information/cyber security and influences

  2. Economic status, progress, opportunity

  3. Government, political stability/effectiveness

  4. Environmental conditions

  5. Social/cultural/philosophical conflicts

  6. Healthcare and Wellness

· Pandemic!

We can’t just wait to see how things turn out.

We have virtually unlimited, 24/7 news, but we all have limited time and resources to seek information and determine if it’s legitimate or false. And we still need to make decisions every day. As of April 26, there is literally no United States leadership plan. There is no good news/bad news dichotomy. The only fortunate circumstance is that in a few months there is an election that can hopefully change not just the American presidency, but generate broader awareness and engagement with political choices, and finally recognize that really are bad things out there that affect us all.

Who will save us, individually and collectively? My forecast might surprise many people. Our most immediate savior is big business.

Big business, in the United States and throughout the world, has its own survival as its first and often only motivation. Big business acts on its economic calculations and can act decisively and effectively when motivated by competition and external threats. True, not all businesses and leaders are equally capable, insightful or motivated. But I believe our biggest institutions got where they are by being mercilessly self-preservation oriented.

Big businesses — in every sector, manufacturing to banking to entertainment — have the resources, talented staff, technology, communications platforms and skills to focus on immediate threats to reach the ultimate “client”, the citizens and consumers.

Big business can act far more quickly than any politicians or legislatures. Businesses have a financial calculation, that every day wasted is a dollar lost. Politicians have a different calculation — every day delayed is another day to avoid committing to a point of view. (Not all politicians of course, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and other progressive politicians rarely delay in expressing their point of view. In contrast, the far-right politicians and supporters not only delay, but when delay is not sufficient the deny and lie).

There will have to be some changes in perceived liberties, including the First Amendment right to free speech, because there must be some vetting of public information for the greater good. This will be covered in a future blog post.

A few months ago, a national business council announced that they were reorienting their goals to recognize that there were actually several connected stakeholders or constituencies – the corporate entity, the shareholders, the employees and consumers. Whether superficial or substantive, many businesses are becoming more aware of the inter-dependency of each component of the social/economic equation.(See McKinsey article.)

In the last three weeks there have been numerous articles and forecasts about the “post virus economy” and post virus society. This recognition is absolutely valid, but it remains to be seen whether it will be acted upon with speed, intelligence and wisdom, with the guiding principle of the transformative “greater good”. As noted, the 2020 presidential election will possibly be the final opportunity for Americans to make a decision for a safer and prosperous future.

Are we ready for the next wave of business transformation?

There is now a convergence of the policies and practices of business and society, sharing a transformation to improve outcomes for greater prosperity and sustainability.

The most recent global transformation began in the 1990s with the advent of the Internet, digital technology, communications, and high-level analytics.

Despite initial skepticism, the digital transformation is well established in almost every sector. For businesses, the “digital transformation” became necessary to compete and focused on measures of production, efficiency, performance, profitability, and shareholder accountability.

More information, moving faster and reaching more people has expanded awareness of the interdependence of business and the greater societal environment. Businesses are recognizing their responsibilities and the need for a more enlightened integration of the human component in all systems and institutions.

The critical challenge, and opportunity, is how we can merge the transformations of business with the greater societal needs, which have grown faster than the practices available to implement them. That is about to change.

Despite the political, economic and social chaos in the last few years, there is a growing movement seeking more spiritual and human-centric solutions that will serve our individual lives and our governing institutions in a global environment.

The next business model will be a human-centric model. The modern core concept will be that business policies that benefit the greater good will also benefit the economic responsibilities of the corporations.

There are many legitimate concerns about business practices that have not been in the public interest. The corrective changes will take more time, but the growing “change” movements have taken hold.

The reality is that business and economic institutions are the best prepared to adopt and accelerate a more holistic approach to transformative goals. Business institutions have the organizations, systems and planning abilities to implement new systems.

Whatever your concerns about the business world, every single person in the United States, and around the world, is still an employee and/or a customer of a business organization. Citizens and businesses are permanently and intricately tied together. Now we have an opportunity to build programs that will be a mutually beneficial bridge to serve the whole.

We are getting too close to a precipitous cliff — economically, politically, socially — without any plans for how to get back to safety. And we don’t how far the fall will be or what’s at the bottom.

You may be familiar with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which publishes a timeline and doomsday clock about the threat of imminent nuclear catastrophes. On a 24-hour clock, the bulletin has us at less than three minutes to midnight -the doomsday event. https://thebulletin.org/timeline.

I believe we have the same clock ticking for us politically, economically and technologically. The Covid virus has shown us how tiny and connected we are on this planet. And how collectively we have fought the petty wars instead of the truly necessary wars for safety, prosperity and survival.

The collective threats to our lives from the current convergence of likely irreversible and harmful consequences is ticking on a new clock, which might be even closer to midnight than the nuclear clock.

Rich Spitzer

#pandemic # big business #crisis #virus #virussolution

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