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The world after a Black Swan event

Actualizado: 25 abr 2020

By Juanpablo Barrantes

Leader’s Approach

5 min read

—“In economic life and history more generally, just about everything of consequence comes from black swans; ordinary events have paltry effects in the long term“— Nassim N Taleb

What's a "Black Swan" event, and why should you care?

The term "black swan" was created by Lebanese-American scholar, statistician, and author, Nassim Taleb. Taleb wrote a popular book, The Black Swan, (not to be confused with the Natalie Portman movie about ballet), which described instances of extreme outlier events that destroyed predictive models.

Basically, black swans like the Coronavirus (2020) or the September 11th (2001) attacks are unique events that rarely someone could have accurately predicted, and which dramatically alter the course of history, society, and economies.

That’s a fact, both September 11th terrorist attacks in NYC and the Coronavirus actual worldwide pandemic spread events are Black Swans, both are difficult, complex and traumatic situations to those who suffered (or are suffering in case of COVID-19) the fatal effects during and right after each event has happened. Furthermore, black swan events like these radically change the way of living once the worst outcomes happen.

Has the world radically changed the way of air traveling after 9-11? We all know for sure how different it is to take a flight after than before 9-11: improved security on aircraft (cockpit doors, bulletproof), security screening on airports, identification checks, even in some countries where also fingerprint travellers use retina and iris scanning to help detect potential criminals.

So what will be the new normal while, but mostly right after COVID-19(at least while no vaccine available)? We all better get prepared for living in a new world because of this highly contagious virus... I have been pondering on just some of the tiny changes you and me would have to assimilate and then to assume as our new normal way if living, like it or not:

Social distance might be part the new normal; just imagine what might happen... each and every place where usually crowds occur, will include new controls and rules to make sure social distance of 1.5 to 2 meters person to person. Any public space such as airports, parks, theaters, buses, trains, buildings, working facilities, restaurants, commercial flights, urban metros, everywhere... will the space restrictions carry out incremental costs?.. for sure. Just imagine every public space signaling a specific limited number of people to prevent close contact. I think that should be the norm if we are conscious or smart enough to prevent a second peak of contagions.

PPE will be the new fashion; PPE is for personal protective equipment, essential items for preventing the virus spread and contagion like face masks, face screens, gloves, medical gowns, amongst others. From now on it will be pretty common seeing everyone outside using PPE as a daily safe and essential habit. Every business that cracked down over this pandemic times turned their eyes to seize whatever opportunity possible related to the PPE and sanitizing products and services: essential apparel companies making face masks and medical apparel, universities, automobile and similar businesses making artificial respiratory equipment, pharmaceutical and cosmetic product companies making alcohol gel and sanitizing products...

Cleaning will also be the new freak; today more than ever is so important to be obsessively compulsive about cleaning everything around, including ourselves. Ironically, these new norm should have been inherently ingrained in our lives as a programmed habit, so we need to embrace neatness and then keep it for the future despite the virus still present or not. Our health will be the new treasure, above money and above everything else, time with family and sometimes time in solitude is teaching us that the “old way” of living was killing us at a slower pace but in a much greater measure than the actual pandemic.

This is just as evident that no one was prepared for managing a health disaster like this one. Like any of the previous black swan catastrophic events, I have no doubt we will eventually implement strong countermeasures to prevent a new health crisis peak comes again... and then until another black swan unexpectedly beats the world.

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