What does crisis have to do with unexpected events?
Originally published on Medium on March 11, 2020.
Years, months, even weeks ago we could read articles about a possible crisis coming up of nowhere. Possible causes and symptoms, like WeWork’s IPO fiasco, sudden closures of numerous European airlines, or clash of titans U.S.A and China in an economic war (was planning another article on that, might not be worth making it anymore) to mention some, were not enough to believe in a serious crisis beginning.
The respectable and witty Danish professor residing in Riga for 23 years, Morten Hansen, by whom I had pleasure to be taught at Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, had numerous publications on the topic for years now. Read one below.
He was not the only one, and he was absolutely right. Talking about a probability of a crisis based on “Well, years have passed since last one. Time for new one!” was absurd. But all the experts were missing one point. It was smart encouraging people not to be afraid… of unpredictable and unstoppable. But not the impossible.
Short ago I head pleasure reading a book by one of the wealthiest men in Latvia, Uldis Pilens, the man made his fortune in construction business. He often referred to a Lebanese-American author, Nassim N. Taleb in his book. That encouraged me to start exploring the world of the professor, researcher, essayist, former Wall Street trader and Medium author Nassim Nicholas Taleb world of unpredictable, unexpected, and unstoppable events – black swans. Super short version to understand what is that: you KNOW all swans are white, so there is NO black swan. So if you ever happen to see a black swan, you would most likely state it is not a swan.
The term has nothing and everything to do with the story/movie/book Black Swan where, simply put, a ballet dancer turns into a swan.
Long story short, without getting into detail of causes and consequences, here it is now, the missed beginning of a long and smart expected crisis. Not just one happening. Not one specific sector. We’ve been good at merging borders in everything, from music genres to sectors in entrepreneurship, to genders of ourselves, humans.
Call it an information-medical-tourism-ecological-manufacturing-refugee crisis, or a reversed globalization (=(self)isolation), or don’t call it crisis at all. But let’s face it – it is there. How to act at a time of crisis? Differently. Another author and researcher, Claus Otto Scharmer explained in his U Theory a possible reaction and action to a situation. Read below my previous article on that. You can either act, react, or not act at all. We should act. The worst is hoping someone else will act, and not act as nothing would have happened, or react by passing detached, scary, not-always-true stories.
We have to act.