World after Corona Swan

March 18, 2020

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Lebanon-American  author of the classic “The Black Swan Theory”, created the metaphor of the black swan for his argument on the unexpected events with three highly improbable characteristics: unexpected, shocking results and liable of explanation for its random.

Some of the reasons for the sprouting of the black swan are just related to our cognitive bias and limitations facing complex new contexts. Our mental preference for simplifying, categorizing, systemizing and specializing put us apart of the required intellectual versatility for lateral thought, significant connections and fertile thoughts on the nonexistent imponderable.

The Coronavirus - as the Terrorist Attack of 9/11, the Hurricane Katrina, and the Election of Donald Trump, among others - is a typical black swan event in the description of Taleb. Totally unpredictable, with deep results in multiple dimensions all over the planet and still susceptible to innumerable searches for scientific explanations.

Once again, the Coronavirus, as pandemic, is not newness. The world has already lived pandemics throughout its trajectory (not always PAN, of course, since the ancient world was not so globalized as in current times). See History of the last centuries:  

It is real that Swan Corona is still far from disappearing - it is everywhere, with strong destruction of wealth in the real world and the financial market, beyond inexorable impact on the health system in all the affected countries for this pandemic chaos.

Then, we are with two ultimate issues in the table of the enterprise leaderships:

1 How to lead the organization at this dramatical moment when everything seems uncertain?

2 How to inspire the organization to other level after the ending of this tense moment?

The leadership exercise during crisis time is one of noblest missions.

And certainly it is not an easy mission for all. Then, let's reflect:

For the first question "#1How to lead the organization at this dramatical moment when everything seems uncertain?" it is worth to point out some primordial aspects:

• Inspire everybody all the moment. Even if the future external scenario still seems discouraging, find energies in your convictions to share your confidence in the collective capacity to surpass challenges, recover losses and conquer new unimaginable possibilities ever thought. Substantiate your positioning on the intention that takes us to surpass almost every present obstacle.

• Keep yourself righteous. Chaotic situations test our ethical and moral limits to the extremity. The barbarity inhabits exactly in the loss of humanist reference that takes us for the future. Integrity in the most difficult decisions is fundamental for the strengthening of bonds with those who admires you and, therefore, follows you.

• Be prepared for hard decisions. Adverse contexts demand unpopular, difficult decisions to be executed by those more charismatic leaderships involved in the preservation of their popularity. Justice with the involved people and agile assertiveness with the decisions seem to form an excellent pair in the crisis.

• Breathe deeply. Ambiguous and complex environments are really discomfortable. There is no rest, no predictability, and no relief in the daily pressure. All your cognitive and emotional power will be demanded in face of this unbearable context for many that surround you. It is up to you to create psychological security environment for the continuity of the enterprise.

• Broad perspectives. In turbulent environments, there are always new chances and also spaces for price arbitrage. Search for performing out of the business patterns, walking beyond the already known borders, re-signifying attributes of value in the relation with customers, searching for innovations. New contexts demand new solutions. As simple as that.

To the second question "#2 How to inspire the organization to other level after the ending of this tense moment?" it is worth to point out some suggestions:

• Groups fortified by the storm are really capable to reach other levels of performance in quieter seas. Recognize the individual talents and the collective efforts that had really made the difference in the experienced success.

• New more efficient modus operandi discovered during the crisis must be institutionalized as new model of management. Do not lose the chance to capture the created value during the tension experienced by the group.

• Systemize the learned lessons with the crisis. Understand the reason why the movements had not been captured before by the organization, in order to improve your external radars. Identify your main fragilities, for the implementation of action plans.

• Understand the impacts of your organization in the generation of shared value. Act in all the mapped fragile fronts experienced throughout the critical phase. Strengthen the commitment to the multi stakeholder value generation.

• Renew your commitment to the foundation of organizational perpetuity, possibly flexibilized during the confrontation of the present acute crisis. After all, the success of the corporate enterprise is the mission of its main body of leaders.

A last commentary: never imagine that this black swan was the last one of the species. At this exact moment, many others are already being prepared to appear and to surprise you.


Daniel Motta is the Founder and CEO of BMI Blue Management Institute, a leading niche consulting firm. He is a global thought leader focused on culture, strategy and leadership. He has a PhD in Economics, MSc in Financial Economics and BA in Economics. He is also an OPMer from Harvard Business School. He is the Managing Director of USA-based VC company White Fox Capital and the Senior Tupinambá Maverick of bossa&etc. He was a co-founder of Brazilian Society of Finance. He currently serves NGO UNIBES as Strategic Planning Principal. He is the author of the best selling books Essential Leadership and book Anthesis. He also has three articles published by Harvard Business Review. He is a Board Member of MASP.