The world is slowly beginning to awaken after many weeks of lockdown. It’s a bit analogous to animals coming out of hibernation after a long winter, or small green chutes rising up through the Earth at the start of spring. Clearly different countries are at different stages of unlocking and no doubt people are at different stages in their “awakening”. Do we really want to return to exactly how things were before?
Frankly, I hope not. Over here in Switzerland, we’re approaching our third week of freedom. Of course, it’s great to be able to meet up with friends again and go out for a drink or a bite to eat. However, there will be aspects of this surreal period that I will definitely mourn. The dearth of planes in the sky or cars on the street made getting about so much easier and more pleasurable. Today it almost feels like the traffic jams are worse than before as people abandon public transport in favour of the apparent safety of their own cars.
I’ve written before about the chance we have to turn this crisis into an opportunity and there are plenty of calls for us to “build back better “. I was encouraged to read that business leaders in the UK are calling for a “green recovery” and for the government to invest in more carbon innovation.
One thing that has become very clear however, is that we are not “all this together” as many have suggested. Far from it. Some industries have been hit very hard such as airlines and energy companies. Others in the technology space have actually seen their share prices surge. Jeff Bezos is no doubt doing cartwheels as Amazon’s share price has climbed by 26% in the past year.
But the crisis has also exposed deep structural inequalities in terms of where we place economic value in society (and the events in the US have exposed deep and long standing racial inequities). Frontline health workers have been working round-the-clock to fight the virus, but are often amongst the lowest paid. A round of applause once a week is great, but it doesn’t put food on the table or provide access to essential services. Similarly, many ancillary workers such as refuse collectors or delivery truck drivers who power the supply chain we take for granted, have long been underpaid. I read with a degree of amusement about the CEOs taking huge salary reductions as a gesture of solidarity. However, when your base salary is often only 10% of your total remuneration, such actions can come across as PR stunts or hollow gestures. This view may be unpopular amongst many of my peers in the business world, but I have long felt that we corporate folks have lined our own pockets for far too long. Afterall, it’s very easy to measure economic value in terms of profits, growth and share prices and convince ourselves that we are worth every penny / cent of our hefty salaries for the value we create. The value to society of giving an old person a bed bath or educating an unruly pupil is far harder to put a number on but no less important. Some would say more important.
These sentiments may be influenced by the fact that my parents were both teachers, or that my sister is currently a language teacher in Scotland and paid a pittance to teach French in a state school in a disadvantaged area. However, I very much hope that one of the silver linings to come out of the current crisis is that we reflect deeply on how we respect and reward the more hidden “value creators” in society, who enable business to thrive.
Summits go virtual
In previous blogs, I’d normally be talking about having given a presentation here or a talk there. Of course, that’s come to an abrupt halt with the lockdown. I’d been planning to speak at the Impact Summit in Scotland on the 18th of May, but this was switched to a virtual event and I was asked instead to record my presentation. There is a big difference between standing on a stage and speaking to a crowd of people (albeit, often a very small crowd), versus talking to a screen. I usually try to lighten my presentations with the odd joke which is of course greeted with silence in this virtual world. “No change there then,” I hear some of the less polite amongst you say. However, the feedback was thankfully positive and I did live Q&A on the day which was fun. I’ll be making a virtual trip back to Scotland next month to give a talk at the Future Business Forum on the 24th June, so sign up if interested in joining, even if only to heckle!
Podcasts are also growing in popularity and I found myself recording not one, but two during the month of May. The were both quite different discussions but equally good fun and I’d be delighted if you had a listen.
Best of the rest
Last month I mentioned that I’m part of the curation team for the upcoming Global Intrapreneur Week which is running from 8-12th June. There is a great line-up of speakers and events throughout the entire week. Well over 1000 people have already signed up and you can do so too here. It’s entirely FREE!.
I’ll be running two sessions:
On Thursday 11th June at 4-5:30pm CET, I’ll host a discussion with three CEOs, Paul Polman former CEO of Unilever, Tania Cosentino, CEO of Microsoft Brazil and Bill Winters, CEO of Standard Chartered, and will be quizzing them on the role of the CEO in driving an intrapreneurial culture. Register here.
Earlier that day, from 2-3:30pm CET I’ll be running a session with some of the so-called “cast” from the Craigberoch Decelerator on how art, improv, music and the natural world can help drive creativity, innovation and of course intrapreneurship. Register for this session here.
If this gets you excited about the whole concept of business deceleration, then I’m delighted to say that we’ll be kicking off our next Craigberoch LIVE: Virtual Decelerator Lab on 25th June at 5pm CET and then run over the following two weeks. There’s no need to take any time off work as the Masterclasses will only take up just over an hour each day. We’re going to have a great lineup of speakers once again, so secure your place by registering here. For a flavour of what to expect take a look at this short one minute video that’s hot off the presses.
We are still hoping to run an in person event on the Isle of Bute from the 19th -23rd October, so please register your interest here without any financial commitment at this stage.
On the personal front…….
I’ve been trying to use the lockdown as a time to really change behaviours and benefit from being in one place for a prolonged period of time. I loved the meditation course I took with Mandar Apte, am continuing yoga each morning with Emma Ryan. I’ve also started singing lessons which helps with the Gospel Choir which has now gone virtual too. I also continue to do a lot of cycling and running and I shouldn’t forget dog walks with Penny. We’ve enjoyed an amazing spell of weather in Geneva recently and the views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding hills has been stunning.
May was also a big month for birthdays in our family with my sister, brother-in-law and niece all celebrating over Zoom drinks.
That’s more than enough for now folks. If you enjoy this monthly ramble then do feel free to suggest others sign up here. Until next month,
* The Bullog = Bulloch + BlogMake sense? Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.