Conversation Territories In The New Normal


Humanity may indeed have developed some formidable technologies for accumulating information, but the truth is, our memories remain very short. It has only taken two or three generations to forget about the consequences of the poorly named “Spanish flu” that killed hundreds of millions around the world between 1918 and 1919. Tragic loss of life aside, that pandemic went on to revolutionize many aspects of society, culture and the economy by introducing structural changes in the ways people lived. We need look no further than Spain to see that it accelerated the role of industry, thus raising the country out of a farming economy; forced a transformation of waste management systems, which did not exist as they do today; and changed the way cities were designed, introducing large plazas to avoid crowds. Some studies even suggest that the pandemic had a decisive impact on World War I. With death and disease among hundreds of thousands of soldiers accelerating an end to the fighting and forcing a bad peace treaty (Versailles), which simply led to a second World War 20 years later.

We forget that, 100 years ago, a virus came and changed almost everything. History is repeating itself now, and a new virus has arrived in 2020 to shake up a society that we already thought was moving fast. Or so we believed, from atop our tower of stability.  A fluid society and constant uncertainty loom over the horizon, and our ingenuity is only now being revealed.

With a hard lesson in humility under our belts, this report tries to highlight the big conversations we are seeing take shape. Some are mutating into something else, and several more we strongly doubt will remain as they are today. All of these conversations are and will be undoubtedly digital, because that is an inherent condition of conversation itself in today’s world.

Seeing the bigger picture may help readers navigate the rough seas of decision-making that surround the issues impacting business: Where might regulatory decisions take us? What are my consumers concerned about? And what issues should I focus on in my relationships with my stakeholders? Nobody has all the answers, but we may be able to find a few of them together if we start here.

Maria Branyas is the oldest person in Spain. She is 113 years old. She lives in Olot (Girona, Spain), and she has just recovered from the coronavirus. She was born in 1907, so she also lived through the Spanish flu as well. She recently said, “From the solitude of my room, fearless and with hope, I don’t really understand what is happening in the world. But I don’t think anything will be the same again. And don’t think about redoing, recovering or rebuilding. Everything will need to be done again, and done differently.”

Everything will need to be done again. We should listen to our elders.

To develop this report, we conducted 62 vertical…

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