To Prepare For a Post-Pandemic World, Read History

A few weeks ago, we started a new series at FS titled Hard Times with an ambition to uncover how people are dealing with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and how enterprises are readying themselves for a post pandemic world. 

The problem is that it is hard to forecast anything. Nobody knows what’s happening and is going to happen in a post-pandemic world. The torrent of information is mostly noise. Signals are rear. 

You can have expectations that things will be different, that people will come back and spend in shopping again and that the economy will rebound, eventually but that’s it. Nobody can predict anything. We can see this reality playing out across markets. In Sweden where there is no lockdown, retail footfall dropped as much as 60% similar to that of many markets where there are strict lockdowns in place. Countries across continents are now looking into slowly opening up the economy. But it appears people will ultimately make the decision of what it means by true opening up. Public trust will dictate whether people will again crow the market once lockdown eases. There will be no opening up of the economy without the confidence of the public in the condition of the pandemic. Then you don’t know what makes people confident to come out. You don’t know how people will respond even when they are confident that they can now safely go out. This reality makes the entire prediction thing much more complicated than it appears. Thus the most relevant lesson we can learn from this pandemic is that things change and it could do so without any prior notice. As Daniel Kahneman says: “the correct lesson to learn from surprises is that the world is surprising.”

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