Jericho Conversations

Business Life After The Virus: Pandemics and an Uncharted Future

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Ambiguity. Uncertainty. Disagreement. Hope. Humanity. Legitimacy

Thank you so much to everyone who joined the inaugural Jericho Conversation on Pandemics and an Uncharted Future with Margaret Heffernan, Andrew Hill, Eithne O’Leary and Suzanne Moore. We hoped you enjoyed it as much as we did.

“We have to get over the childish notion that once this crisis is over, certainty will return… Uncertainty is here to stay”

Margaret Heffernan

Here is a quick summary of what we heard and learned:

From Margaret – Uncertainty

“There is an agenda in maintaining that predictive models can work; they tell us that someone else owns the future when, in truth, it is ours to make. The fact that we don’t know what the future holds allows the potential to make it truly fantastic.

“The opposite of efficiency is not inefficiency; it is robustness – organisations must create a margin that allows them to adapt.”

From Andrew – Flexibility

“This crisis has revealed where the vital connections are, in the way that society and businesses are set up. Organisations must re-organise that and recognise truly flexible working.

“There is very much an element of human resilience that gets overlooked when we are looking at supply chain resilience. How, for example, organisations now retain human resilience when many are facing redundancies will be key.”

From Eithne – Resilience

“Personal resilience is clearly important. From experience, however, those who are rigid thinkers are coming through this crisis quite badly. We have to acknowledge that we will get things wrong and not be paralyzed by it. Retain flexibility and optionality over efficiency.

“Leadership must acknowledge that it’s difficult to have all the answers and talk to a broad range of people. Experts, in this particular case, have something to offer – take advice from people who demonstrate understanding.”

From Suzanne – Diversity

“We need to acknowledge the expertise of people who live with uncertainty but are not like us. For people who live with chronic illness, disability and those who are migrants, uncertainty is their reality. Who we
value as experts must change.

“I would hope not so much for a reset, but a renewal. To paraphrase Gramsci: don’t live with illusions but don’t be disillusioned.”

If you would to (re-)watch the webinar in full you
can do so here.

Throughout this crisis and beyond, together we need to embrace ambiguity, uncertainty, disagreement, hope and above all humanity. From this, a more legitimate leadership will flow.

We hope, individually and collectively, we can keep the conversation flowing on this subject, as we look, optimistically, to life after the virus. Please do stay in touch.

#JerichoConversations – Next Up

The next Jericho Conversation in the series will take place on Friday 17 April, 12:30-1.45pm.

Robert Shrimsley, UK Chief Political Commentator, Financial Times, will lead the discussion. The expert panel includes: (Lord) Mervyn Davies, Chair of Corsair Capital, former Chair, Standard Chartered, and ex-Government Minister; Jane McCormick, Global Head of Tax, KPMG; and Charles Wookey, CEO, Blueprint for Better Business.

We will be asking: what is the “new normal” for capitalism and is there any chance that we will ever return to it now?

No-one yet knows the true business and economic consequences of the current crisis – is this the fundamental re-set that many have long predicted (and sometimes lobbied for)? Will the era that emerges see the triumph of a new, compassionate capitalism – conscious of needs for climate and health – or will it witness a renewed emphasis on shareholders and investor returns, with a cadre of leaders anxious to return to old-style profitability and economic growth?

We are curating this session in partnership with Blueprint for Better Business.

#JerichoConversations – Join In

This note is being shared with the wider Jericho community – 4,000+ business leaders, politicians & policymakers, academics and experts, activists and campaigners, media and commentators. Your participation and support is what makes it special. Do get in touch if you have thoughts or ideas to share or would like to find out more about Jericho.

Keep well. Stay safe. Take care.

Robert, Becky, Becca, Roxi and Team Jericho
April 9 2020

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