How to face the pitfalls of the 21st century, While at the same time making use of the opportunities which the crisis offers us?

I remember receiving my university diploma upon graduating from the prestigious Institute of International Studies in Geneva shortly after the 11th of September 2001, and having the feeling that not only the school, but the discipline itself, had betrayed me. I then observed the economic crisis in the years 2007-2008 within the scope of my work in a medium-sized, family-owned company, the type of business most affected by the crisis. The fact that the crisis gave rise to new economic sectors and services will not rid me of the memories of feeling panic, which I experienced at the time with regard to a feeling of responsibility for employees, the company and my family. And the current crisis? I’m looking forward to Covid-19 becoming Co-Win 2020.

And because a good theory can prove to be the most practical thing in life, below we set out five stances that will not only help us better deal with today’s reality, but also confirm the well-known saying “in every crisis lies an opportunity“. The Harvard Business Review identified resilience as a key ability to manage dynamic and unforeseeable changes. Resilience is characterised as the ability to not only survive, but prosper during unexpected, changing conditions, and potentially adverse situations.

1. Although we’re all waiting for life after Covid-19, we all already suspect that the world will be different. Let’s come to terms with the fact that today’s world is simply VUCA.

The term VUCA is an acronym that the US Army has been using since the 1990s. VUCA is an abbreviation for a world which is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

The events of recent months and days have given us the opportunity to literally experience all of these acronyms. We have experienced changes that not only take place faster, but also have a global impact. Events are developing in an unexpected manner, with no way to determine cause and consequence. And the only constant is the fact that there will be more changes and so-called disruptive developments.

2. Strengthen your ability to adapt, and gain new skills.

In connection with pressure on the psyche, the AQ, or adoption quotient, is gradually coming to the fore. Almost a decade before the current crisis, adaptability was identified as a new competitive advantage in a study by the Harvard Business Review. In the future, employers will prioritise the recruitment of leaders/individuals/workers who are able to adapt to new conditions, and increase their adaptability in work. That will help such people stay high on the career ladder, even in a digitally accelerating world. Take some time to think about how you can strengthen your adaptability. If until now you haven‘t been good friends with the latest technology, use the opportunity to learn new skills. There is now time not only to complete interesting online courses, but also to try out new tools, whether for working from home or meeting friends remotely. Prestigious foreign universities have made available free online educational courses, large technology companies are competing to offer shared platforms, and many community organisations that until now were accustomed to holding personal meetings have moved to the online world. We have noticed not only online meetings by religious communities, but also home-managed productions by musical groups and theatre ensembles.

3. Strengthen your critical thinking and strategic decision-making. It will help you to deal with uncertainty more easily.

It’s becoming more and more difficult to foresee events, or predict how a situation will develop. The new dynamic of changes often brings about situations where our plans may become irrelevant as soon as they’re made. The strategic thinking tools used in the previous period stop functioning. It is not possible to predict the behaviour of markets, customers, the competition, or even states and multinational aggregates. The strengthening of critical and strategic thinking can serve to effectively solve problems. It’s important to learn to perceive things in their context, from a systemic perspective. That can help us predict future developments, and correctly determine priorities for our decision-making. It’s the complete opposite of fragmentation and reactive thinking, which is stimulated by permanent changes. We present one of the strategic decision-making tools, the “See Through“ method, in this edition.

4. Work effectively with information.

Thanks to globalisation and technology (internet, mobile phones, social networks), we live in a world where there is an overabundance of information, but we’re already well aware that quantity does not always mean quality. Not only is the pace of change accelerating – everything seems to be connected to everything else. There are many and various links, and simple connections cannot be determined. Our modern world is more complex than ever. Chaos, confusion, contradictory information. Problems, and the consequences of these problems, are multilayered and harder to understand. The various layers overlap, which makes it impossible to obtain an overview of how things are related. Decisions take place quickly, and it is almost impossible to choose one correct way. You don’t have to read all the latest information about the COVID-19 disease; focus on quality sources and relevant authorities in the field. It’s not without reason that we’re once again turning to listen to scientific authorities instead of politicians who express themselves superficially. Monitor data and facts, not drama and sensations.

5. Look forward to Co-Win 2020. Use your creativity, and think about what new services or products you can offer.

Quarantine, and the maintenance of physical distance, does not have to mean total isolation and an end to international collaboration. On the contrary, today the sectors of science and research, in particular, show us how we can only manage the new global challenges with strengthened collaboration. We can already see how the crisis is beginning to be reflected in a positive way in education and the entertainment industry, and how it has contributed to flexibility and the development of remote work. Try to replace the word “competitiveness“ with “collaborativeness“.

I’ll say goodbye to you by paraphrasing my favourite journalist and publicist, Jindřich Šídlo, who is the author of the programme Happy Monday: “Now you have enough tips to survive not until next week, but until the next edition“. And also an appeal: stay in contact with one another, and write to us to let us know what’s helping you deal with current world events. My other favourite saying is the well-known English phrase: Sharing is Caring…

Linda Štucbartová and Marcela Janíčková,