Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to the party. After more than a year of social, economic and emotional restrictions, Europe is ready to kick off its most extensive and longed-for Carnival! Summer cocktails, vaccinations and a lot of catharsis.
Apparently, everyone is desperate to enjoy the new version of the Roaring 20s we’ve heard so much about. The truth is that very few of us actually know what they could involve, but it looks good to say it. Maybe that’s because of the way the decades coincide (the 1920s and the 2020s!) or because we all think that we were ‘crazier’ in our own 20s. Whatever the reason, it sounds good.
But we’re not living through a time when people read much, or learn from history. Or weigh up the options and act cautiously. Better to just not think about the consequences. What it’s all about right now is throwing off constraints, living in the moment, immediacy, enjoying this instant while it lasts. Forget anxiety. Excess is back (for the moment).
But what recovery is coming? What are we expecting to recover? These are the questions we considered recently when designing and leading several workshops on anticipating scenarios and trends. The sessions were very interesting and some extremely pertinent concepts came out of them for the design of new products and services, and for defining communication strategies.
People are strange creatures. Some are desperate to get back to their traffic jams. Others want to feel the crush of a crowd at a concert, club or even just on public transport. Some want to go back to working at the office (although they actually don’t like it). Others simply dream of the day when they don’t have to wear a mask.
Underneath it all there is a desire, a calming need in all these ambitions: to get back to old, familiar routines (whatever they are). Inertia, habit.
The power of habit is a determining factor in human conduct. Neither desire or fear have such an impact on our bodies, intentions, dreams as learned habit. And although there has been talk about a lot of changes, and we think we’re open to the coming of a new world… we’re just going to go back to our old habits (including the bad ones) much faster than we can imagine.
And so, enjoy the party while it lasts and while you can. Because it could be that with the post-celebration hangover will come a time of looking back, a more conservative, romantic and traditional time. Because at the end of the day, recovery means just that: looking back more than looking forward. It’s in this tension (safe past – unknown future) that we will have to ‘recover’ and dance whatever Charleston is coming our way. And within that tension is where opportunities can arise, providing we can identify them and have action plans prepared for managing them.