Some time ago I read in the Financial Times an article that referred to an economist who had escaped from my mind some 20 years ago: the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter who argued that creative destruction was “the essential fact about capitalism. The capitalist organisation that sweeps away the old.”
The article also quoted the Netherlands born economic historian Joel Mokyr (recipient of the prestigious Heineken History Award by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences) who states that “occasionally, there are times when a similarly convulsive process applies to institutions and ideas.”
Is the COVID-19 a catalyst for a creative destruction of the unprecedented prosperity that we enjoyed in the Netherlands and in Japan for let’s say the last two, three decades?
Well, on the one hand I am not optimistic that we will return to the BC (Before Corona) economic order and at the same time I am pretty positive that we will be able to create a new model that will be based upon a number of lessons that we learn during the Corona pandemic. So: no, we do not need to travel with the same frequency to Japan or the Netherlands that we did until three months ago. No, the myth of live-meetings being indispensable for our organisations has proven to be at least partly fake. No: the consumerism-without-limitation (or better: the shop-until-you-drop mentality) will be finito: part of it is the result of off-shoring our essential manufacturing skills to China and other countries in SE Asia and the mantra to push prices of virtually everything to the bottom, regardless what the impact of this drive for ultimate efficiency is on society and environment. My advise: let’s put McKinsey on hold.
But now: what will be the new AC (After Corona) paradigm? Perhaps the most important will be quality above quantity. Less is more, surely when “this less” is better and more responsibly made with less impact on the environment. Hugging will be out, social distancing à la Japonaise will be in, at least in greetings and meetings. Experiencing and enjoying real quality will prevail above mass-tourism and the “I need to have been there” mentality. For my Dutch friends: try to experience a real Japanese tea-ceremony that might take several hours: it’s all about “being here” and leaving your daily worries at the door. To my Japanese friends: perhaps the Western equivalent of a Japanese tea-ceremony is a well-performed Matthäus Passion, preferably at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam: it’s all about “being here” and leaving your daily worries at the door (and it takes almost the same time.)
So, is the Corona-pandemic a negative event / era / happening? Well, the answer is “yes” when you want to return the world of BC (and let’s be honest: of course, the COVID-19 time is terrible for patients and their families.)
But, if you are ready to accept that the result of this pandemic and its economic impact might be the creative destruction of the unsustainable economic order that we lived in until some months ago and that proved to be very unfair for the have-nots and the environment, well, then we may create something better and more responsible. Let’s wish for the last.