Post Corona Scenarios
Until COVID19 is overcome, the focus will be on pandemic control. In addition to this look at the near future, questions are increasingly being asked about what our world will look like after the pandemic: Will we return to old lifestyles and consumption patterns, or is there a "New Normal" - and what might that look like?
The questions about the future of business, society and politics after the COVID19-pandemic are numerous: How will companies and industries fare? Will COVID19 lead to de-globalization with shorter supply chains, will multilateral cooperation become more accepted as a solution approach - or will both developments intertwine? Will work processes change significantly? Will the leitmotif of solidarity within societies or between states win or lose? Will the socio-political view of services of general interest change - and what does this mean for regulation, the role of the public sector, or specifically our health care system? And will society be dominated by a desire for a new normal - or a desire for change, in whatever direction? Together with 80 experts, ScMI addressed these and many other questions in an open online process and developed eight different so-called post-corona scenarios and summarized them in a map of the future.
The eight Post Corona Scenarios are not forecasts, but "thinking tools". They are intended to help decision-makers in companies, organizations and public institutions to make better decisions in today's highly uncertain environment:
The Roaring Twenties (Scenario 1)
The Roaring Twenties - The old normality is back (Scenario 1):
The memory of COVID19 as a short-term shock fades - the world has repressed its pandemic experience, has returned to old normality. Even the economic slump was quickly overcome in most countries - and so now they do not want to be torn from their regained routine by new, less acute crises such as climate change. The German economy has continued to focus on its key industries and has strengthened its position as the world‘s export champion in a reinvigorated free trade system. In return, Germany is lagging far behind others in the digital transformation. Successful crisis management has led to a sustained strengthening of the political centre. Fear and insecurity have been largely forgotten and the old attitude to life with its pronounced individualism has returned. Physical contacts are once again dominating everyday life; people are following the old mobility and consumption patterns and making up for missed leisure and consumption opportunities without distance. The new carelessness is accompanied by the renunciation of proven resilience strategies or systemic changes in the health care system.
The Pandemic Decade (Scenario 2)
The Pandemic Decade - Resilience as a new guiding principle (Scenario 2):
COVID19 was only the beginning: New pandemics are changing all areas of life and are reducing the perception of other crises such as climate change. The international community is working together to counter the new threat. However, not even a return to multilateral thinking and free world trade can prevent the measures from repeatedly leading to economic collapses and an overall reduction in innovation. The German economy is relying on its key industries and can largely maintain its position there. The focus on pandemics leads to a high need for security and ultimately to health systems and policy in general being geared in such a way that they are able to deal with possible pandemics much better than before. This also includes the adaptation of remuneration systems, i.e. improved payment for occupations relevant to resiliency. The consumer climate is suffering from the critical economic situation and the increasing tax burden. Social life is taking place in smaller units - overcrowded cities are becoming less attractive.
Farewell to the Familiar (Scenario 3)
Farewell to the Familiar - De-globalization and cutting consumption (Scenario 3):
Pandemics are not everything: a variety of crises are shaking humanity. Massive environmental and climate problems are forcing politics, business and consumers to change their priorities. Globally, a system of different spheres of interest is emerging - as well as within the European Union. Within the new blocs, production is increasingly regional, so that the global flow of goods is being reduced. A paradigm shift is taking place in the German economy: growth at any price no longer exists and the former world champion exporter has to reinvent himself. Diverse innovations promote sustainable structural change, and regional approaches are also gaining ground in the digital world, and German companies are very successful in implementing them. In politics, the balance is shifting towards stronger regulation and greater public influence. Both the public sector and companies are strengthening their foresight and increasingly focusing on resilience strategies. The broad return to sustainable values is leading to a conscious decision to forego consumption. Virtual communication is used in many ways - but as a complement to the physical contacts that are still dominant and actively cultivated by people. Social life focuses on local units and the model of urban life is losing its lustre.
New Global Dynamics (Scenario 4)
New Global Dynamics - Fair growth in cooperative structures (Scenario 4):
COVID19 has been perceived by all people as a decisive event and has led to a global rethink. Transnational politics has become more powerful and has created new framework conditions. Thus a fair free trade system has been created, which has enabled a return to global economic dynamics. Germany is profiting from this new dynamism and is developing into a driver of structural change. This also includes the fact that Europe, with its focus on open architectures, has become a leading digital location on a par with the USA and China. This is associated with significant changes in the labor market, employment relationships and remuneration systems. In this world, professional success is inextricably linked to the creation of meaning and personal development. The strengthened political centre is establishing sustainable resilience strategies. Although new pandemics and crises do exist, they are no longer perceived as threatening in everyday life. Challenges are met with global responsibility, but above all with openness and curiosity - the joy of innovation dominates and education is essential, as are high-quality information offerings.
Massive Virtualization (Scenario 5)
Massive Virtualization - Security and new proximity in connected world (Scenario 5):
While the economic consequences of COVID19 were overcome relatively quickly, the pandemic was accompanied by a different paradigm shift: digital services are gaining ground all over the world, including in Germany, and are changing business and working life and everyday life. As a result, an increasingly global awareness is emerging; technologies and innovations are being developed in multilateral cooperation. The EU is making a name for itself as a responsible digital player and is gaining in profile and identity: even the „United States of Europe“ is no longer a utopia. Politics is open to a wide range of experiments and reforms - right down to an unconditional basic income. However, the digital transformation also goes hand in hand with greater openness of data - but few people talk about monitoring. The new digital world also includes new possibilities for fact-based media and leads overall to transparency and a productive social discourse. In everyday life, a lifestyle characterized by risk avoidance, but not hysteria, is developing that contains elements of social distancing and prosperity away from cities. The massive virtualisation of everyday life is also associated with significantly changed purchasing behaviour. Possession and the physical shopping process are losing importance in this world.
In Corporate Hands (Scenario 6)
In Corporate Hands - Progress at the expense of participation (Scenario 6):
The deceleration during the COVID19 pandemic was followed by a massive acceleration of the economy and everyday life. Working life has become massively more flexible and new technologies are developed in a highly innovative and globally open system. Thus, new pandemics can be suppressed at an early stage through medical and biological progress, which makes costly resilience strategies unnecessary. World politics is increasingly being shaped by globally oriented and long-term forward-looking companies whose innovative strength makes them superior to traditional nation states and multilateral organizations. Unregulated location competition prevents global solutions to problems, and within societies the privatised education and social systems in many places increase disparities. The German economy is experiencing a surge of innovation, is changing rapidly and is building up strong world market leaders, which in turn are exerting political influence, undermining the role of the weakened state and causing a creeping systemic crisis. In everyday life, increasing virtualization offers numerous solutions to problems - but it also has the effect of immobilizing those who can no longer keep up in the accelerated digital world. The end result is often social isolation.
The Ongoing Crisis (Scenario 7)
The Ongoing Crisis - A fertile ground for authoritarian ideas (Scenario 7):
Although the health consequences of COVID19 were quickly overcome, a severe and prolonged recession with a sharp rise in unemployment has occurred worldwide. At the same time, the rescue measures have intensified the turn away from global trade and slowed down global economic growth. The world has disintegrated into different spheres of influence, which are striving for greater self-sufficiency in their technology and innovation policies. The European Union is stagnating and falling behind in the global competition between the georegions. In this world of diverse crises and conflicts, those responsible set other priorities than environmental and climate protection. The German economy remains despondent and unimaginative in its traditional structures and is losing importance in the global competition between locations. There is less and less scope for investment in R&D - the capacity for innovation is declining structurally. Fact-based media and independent sciences are finding less and less attention in the turbulent mood democracy. Destabilization is accompanied by a desire for a „strong hand policy“. Although people perceive the ossified education, social or health systems as unjust, they are unable to reach social agreement on reforms or necessary resilience strategies in a world dominated by individual interests and the preservation of vested interests. Traditional consumption patterns are defended and the virtualisation of everyday life remains superficial.
Break-Up of Order (Scenario 8)
Break-Up of Order - Loss of control and desolidarisation (Scenario 8):
COVID19 has set off an undreamt-of downward spiral worldwide. Already the first severe and prolonged recession was accompanied by a sharp rise in unemployment and manifold social conflicts. At the same time, nation states have increasingly closed off their domestic markets, which has aggravated the global economic crisis and undermined global confidence. In global politics, authoritarian and nationalist forces are gaining ground. As a result, the global financial system has been destabilized with numerous state bankruptcies and unavoidable debt cuts. Even the EU is marked by severe disintegration. Those responsible are closing their eyes to the increasingly obvious environmental and climate consequences. The German economy, which has been deprived of its export markets, is also being dragged down, with the result that many weakened companies are being taken over by global competitors. Even in a previously stable Germany, political events are increasingly being determined by semi-authoritarian forces, which prevents the implementation of resilience strategies and reforms in the education, social and health care systems. For people, uncertainty and an obvious loss of control lead to a retreat into their cramped, private spaces and comfortable „knowledge bubbles“. Social cohesion and common identity are lost. Everyone fights for their privileges (or those of their clan) in everyday life, with more and more people being left behind in this uninhibited elbow society and having to restrict their consumption, which keeps the downward spiral going.
In a preliminary assessment in May 2020, all eight post-covid-scenarios still had almost identical expectation values; uncertainty during the first pandemic months was extremely high. In a new assessment by respondents from business, science, futurology and consulting as well as young people in fall/winter 2020, a new and differentiated picture emerged. It became clear that the experts expect above all a structural change in the economy and society in the 2020s. These include an increase in the speed of innovation, significant changes in economic structures, working practices and consumption patterns, and a massive virtualization of our everyday lives.The main driver of this change will be the climate crisis, which took a back seat during the pandemic but will force politicians, companies and consumers to change their priorities in the post-Corona era.
The results of the open online scenario process are summarized in a study, the German version of which you can download for free. An English version is currently under development. If you would like to participate in the international evaluation of the post-Corona scenarios, the link to the questionnaire can be found here.
The scenarios have been developed in cooperation with the following partners: