OpenExO Blog

Discover what the community has to say in their own words

Written by Sanjay Bhana
on March 13, 2020


Investopedia defines a black swan event as " an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. Black swan events are characterized by their extreme rarity, their severe impact, and the widespread insistence they were obvious in hindsight." 
COVID-19, aka the Corona Virus, is spreading at an alarming rate across the globe. And, every life lost, be it due to this virus or another cause, is 1(One) life too many.


Is this a “Black swan” event?

Let us examine the obvious and flip side of this situation using the characteristics above of a "Black swan event":

1. Extreme rarity

The obvious extreme rarity here is the “the shutdown of the various towns globally, from China and Korea to Italy and the possibility of further towns experiencing the same due to a common cause … Covid 19”

The not so obvious flip side of this, which may be equally extremely rare, being:

The prolonged/extended period in which family units will be together due to them being confined to their homes with limited movement
Is this so bad in a world in which we’ve become technologically connected and socially disconnected?
Can this be a time in which some social bonds are strengthened?
Is this our moment in which we literally reconnect with one another at a family unit level?
The global reduction in travel and the associated reduction in emissions, be it from your car, plane or other modes of transport.
Could this help in some significant way with our global efforts to address climate change and be the boon mother nature has longed for?
2. Severe impact

The obvious here is the rate at which the virus is spreading globally, and the growing number of people infections and deaths.
The not so obvious flip side of this, being the severe impact on day to day life as we know it, for example:
The greater reliance on Remote work as companies encourage their staff to work from home
Will this be the tipping point, creating exponential shifts from office-based to remote work globally and the use/adoption of virtual technologies, collaboration apps, etc?
The greater requirement for technology-enabled home and communal schooling as schools and educational institutions are shut down for extended periods 
Will this be the tipping point for an overhaul to our education models, ushering in new and disruptive methods that alter how, when, where and what we learn?
The increasing reliance on online shopping and delivery due to travel restrictions
Could this be the event that enables greater adoption and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones) for delivery and logistics? 
Empty roads and a sky full of drones?

3. Unpredictable but, obvious in hindsight

As the saying goes “Hindsight is a perfect science”. And, as is always the case post event, there are always references to predictions made which foretold of the event or inferred something of this nature, but why then weren’t these “predictions” acted upon?

So, given that it has happened, the question we could ask, is … “did this happen to us or for us?” … will it play out and be:

Viewed as just another event on this journey called life; or
Viewed as a “negative black swan event with dire consequences for all”; or
Viewed as a “positive black swan event that ushered in much-needed change”

How would you classify this event?

Opportunities herein

Regardless of how you view this event, there are significant opportunities herein to add value to humanity, and potentially become an exponential organisation, for example:
Apps on mobile devices for screening - medical algorithms for diagnosis
Finding cures and solutions to the pandemic using artificial intelligence, algorithms and big data
Virtual nurses for support
Artificial intelligence and virtual reality applications in education
Artificial intelligence, on-demand education and the future of jobs
Digital manufacturing for supply chain disruption


“An Exponential Organization or ExO is one whose impact or output is at least 10x larger than that of its industry peers thanks to the use of new organizational techniques that leverage accelerating technologies.”- Salim Ismail, co-author of the book “Exponential Organizations”
BookIf you found this article though provoking make a comment and reach out to Sanjay the author of this post.

Sanjay Bhana is a certified consultant, coach and trainer in the OpenExO community. 

He is based in South Africa and has the following belief: “Everything I do, I do because I believe in the importance of challenging the status quo; the importance of evolving, of shifting mind-sets/paradigms and beliefs; … I believe in the power of QUESTIONING to influence and impact for the greater good” 

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