We learned from 2020 that business could pivot rapidly in a crisis — from restructuring production, logistics or supply chains in a mere matter of days. No one took technology for granted, particularly when tech delivered while governments around the world struggled to understand a novel virus. If the pharma industry were able to produce COVID-19 vaccines in less than a year, then we all should be inspired to understand just how much we can achieve as human beings.
2020 also brings to mind the Greek myth of Pandora and her magical box. As most of us will recall from our early schooldays, Zeus gave Pandora a wedding gift of a beautiful container — with just one especially important condition: she was forbidden to open the box. But Pandora was curious, and she ultimately did lift the lid to peek inside. Out poured disease, poverty, misery, sadness, death, and all the evils of the world. Pandora slammed the lid shut, but it was too late. All of the contents had escaped — except for one small, but important, item at the bottom — HOPE. I believe that HOPE is the theme for 2021 — a year that will start with continued turbulence and challenges, but one that has a silver lining with a vaccine which will bring about greater predictability and new breakthroughs. Hope is also essential to our business and to brands; it creates a stronger Share of Life®. Who would want to share their life with a brand that doesn't authentically provide hope, especially now? Even the UN Sustainability Goals must ladder up to something greater than their individual missions.
They must provide hope for a more just and better planet for future generations, or why commit to them? James McQuivey of Forrester has some interesting thoughts about hope: “We need to affiliate with people, objects, movements, and groups that we have reason to believe intend to do well by us. If we can’t find that, we despair. When we do find it, we experience hope.” A hallmark of 2020 was how the world worked remotely. Many wondered whether a company or brand’s sense of purpose would erode in a work-from-home world without physical collaboration among employees. We learned that a sense of purpose supersedes physical location. I find this to be one of the core pillars of HOPE in the business world. Experience has taught us to be ready for anything in 2021.
Adapting is more than Darwinism; it highlights the value of innovation and a belief in the potential of the world ahead. As the various vaccines make their way around the globe, we can all look forward with hope that much suffering will end in 2021 and we can get on with the business of building a thriving world for all.