Shocks bring with them the opportunity to ask the questions of what went wrong and why. When doing so, two macro parameters stand out: the need for trust and the degree of resilience. The need for trust is often higher in countries with centralised governance systems - without trust social contracts cannot function. Never has there been a more opportune time to discuss the importance of resilience - it is not possible to predict the next black swan event, therefore it is essential to ensure countries and businesses are prepared for the unexpected.
The root causes of the current crisis must be addressed, there has been an over-reliance on trust and a dearth of resilience driven by prevalent short-termism. Hence, there is a need to change the modus operandi of government and move to a citizen-centric society. Countries are at varying stages on the pathway to citizen- centric societies –some which are highly centralised with low levels of resilience, such as Russia, Greece and Mexico. Whilst others are already citizen-centric societies: for instance, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark – these countries also rank highly in the Whiteshield Partners Global Labour Resilience Index.
How do we create citizen-centric societies?
A common set of design principles should guide its implementation:
- Less governance centralization: There is a need to de-concentrate fiscal and policy decision-making to empower local actors
- More supply chain redundancies: Corporations ought to rethink the level of concentration of their supply chain.
- More fluid integration of technology: Governments should strengthen their commitment to local start- ups and small enterprises, which could stimulate a continuous flow of innovative solutions to pre-empt shortages.
- Revising policy metrics: Public policies metrics need to be citizen-centric - such as disposable income and wellbeing.
- Financing the future: The path toward a more resilient system requires governments to engage in the counter-intuitive and difficult task of rethinking the effectiveness of modern-day currencies. This should result in the adoption of a sounder model that shifts time preferences from high to low and encourages economic actors to invest in long-term productive projects.
- Refocusing the time horizon: The prevalent incentive structure needs to be supplanted by one that is more inclusive while short-term performance indicators replaced with longer-term counterparts.
Reducing the need for trust and increasing resilience
The unfolding of current events is happening at an ever-accelerating rate and calls for a paradigm shift in the way social contracts are designed. The new model should minimize the need for trust and strengthen the overall resilience of its enabling components.