As the year 2020 draws to a close, it’s important to reflect on what has transpired in this tumultuous year and take forward any lessons learnt into the future. Who would have thought in December 2019 that a global pandemic would sweep the world, disrupting economies in a way none of us could have imagined? Trillions of dollars have been poured into the global economy to ensure it did not collapse. Governments worldwide supported businesses and households with cash injections and financial aid, ensuring the impact of COVID-19 was reduced on a business and personal level yet it has taken a toll none the less, with many people forced out of work and businesses folding. The new social distancing norms have meant that family members were not able to see each other, in some cases for months. Global travel ground to a halt. Peoples’ lives were upended. The response to COVID-19 has been treated differently. In Melbourne, Australia, our second wave forced us into a 120 day lockdown. Strict rules were applied. In contrast, Sweden continued on with a much freer approach.
So what are the key takeaways from living through 2020? A couple of things come to mind…
Firstly, I recall when I took up a job in Papua New Guinea in 1996 and was met by a smiling Papuan at the airport and was told “Welcome to PNG! Expect the unexpected!” (How true that was!).
Secondly, the worlds of Donald Rumsfield “It’s the unknown unknowns we should worry about” – things which we are neither aware of nor understand.
Both statements are true of 2020. It really made me think that no matter what’s on your “risk register”, it’s the things that are not on there that cause the most disruption, and are the ones that are difficult to deal with. How many people had “global pandemic” on their risk register, and how many knew what the mitigation strategies would be? A year on, and we are much wiser, and I’m sure it’s now been added to most risk registers – as will climate change impacts over the next 20 to 30 years if it is not already there.
The fact is that pandemics are not new – humans have been living with them forever. But as one generation passes to another, we simply forget (consciously or not) the challenges and heartbreak they bring. We humans are a funny bunch. If it does not impact us directly, we are less motivated to do something about it.
Throughout this year, BPD Zenith has continued to support our clients globally, and has added new clients without even meeting them. We are lucky in that we work in the Cloud space, so our teams could work from home (most already did that in some small capacity previously), but it went to a whole new level in 2020. The most important pieces were to continue to give our clients support, and to continue to give our own team support. I think in this respect, 2020 has proven what a great team we have globally, what great clients we have, and that we can be just as effective during a pandemic than when not in one. It does focus the eye as to what is important, with less important things dropping away. Sometimes a major jolt in life is what is needed to shift the paradigm. This one, has been very costly, however.
From here on in, expect the unexpected!