Blair Sheppard: We Have to Fix Things Massively and Quickly
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Blair Sheppard, global leader for strategy and leadership at PwC and author of the new book Ten Years to Midnight: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions, discusses how we can avoid Armageddon Street in ten years.
From the episode:
Andrew Keen: Your job at PwC is less about pointing out problems than fixing them. What can realistically be done over the next ten years to address these problems, to make sure that we don’t have another French, Russian, or Chinese revolution or just mass chaos and anarchy?
Blair Sheppard: There are a few things we have to do. One of them is we have to take a few of the problems that are huge and deal with them massively and quickly in a way like we haven’t seen before. One of the things about COVID-19 is that it’s taught us how to do that, right? We learned we could shut economies down. We learned we could change our behavior to interact like this overnight. So that was out there, and we certainly haven’t done it in the United States. We have to put it to more constructive uses, but we have to do some things massively and quickly.
Secondly, the creation of small business and jobs: we have to do that globally. Take the lessons of the Marshall Plan and apply them with 21st-century methods. We have to take the way we thought about the world that created so much success for 70 years and recalibrate it to the world we’re in today. So it’s not single measures like GDP and shareholder value. It’s actually more complicated, more inclusive, and more interdependent measures. Our institutions need to remember why they were there, but then reinvent themselves for the world we find ourselves in.
I think to me, the most radical ideas really are that we need to go back to the place that matters to us most and take care of it first. So we’ve got to take care of local circumstances, build them, and make them successful, because there are too many villages, cities, and towns that are broken that all of us care about. It doesn’t work to put bad things together. Imagine you’re in the Olympics. There’s only one swimmer. Not very interesting. So we need the local swim meets to be good again.
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Blair H. Sheppard is the global leader for strategy and leadership at PwC, a network of professional services firms committed to building trust in society and solving important problems. He is also professor emeritus and dean emeritus of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. During his time at Duke, he was the founding CEO and chairman of Duke Corporate Education and was the principal force behind opening Duke’s campus in China.