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How 2020 Will Shape a Generation - Expert Conversations

COVID-19 Insights October 28, 2020

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, we witnessed the rapid adoption of technologies, some old and some new, but many of which were designed to replicate human interaction at work and in the classroom. Meanwhile, racial inequality and political polarization also contributed to our current state of “radical uncertainty.”

The events of 2020 have affected everyone, but the impact on the younger generation is particularly powerful, as their worldview is being shaped by this unprecedented time. What impact could all these changes have on Generation COVID, or Gen C—the generation that’s coming of age during this crisis?

On our final episode of Road to Recovery: Expert Conversations, host Eric Boles spoke with three experts to bring insights from the past and present to illustrate how 2020 will shape a generation:

  • Cheryl Cran, CEO and Founder, NextMapping

  • Dr. Lawrence Mussio, Author, Historian and Special Advisor to BMO’s Office of the CEO

  • Yogesh Amle, Managing Director in the BMO Capital Markets Technology and Business Services Investment Banking Group



Following is a summary of their discussion.

Generational Matters

One aspect of our current situation is how it’s impacted younger people differently than adults. Cran says that for people under 17, 2020 has been a pivotal lesson in how to negotiate change and disruption.

"This is a generation that’s been deeply affected by social change, about how their parents have handled the pandemic, how it’s affected their economic reality, how it’s affected the way they connect,” she said. “I think we’re going to see ripple effects from what’s happening in 2020 on Gen C for many years to come.”

But as Mussio pointed out, older generations are experiencing the disorienting effects of 2020 in their own ways. "Radical uncertainty can fall unequally on different groups,” he said. “Gen Z is graduating into a world of citywide lockdowns, Gen C has its own issues. Gen Xers, we’ve already had the taste of that by graduating into the late 1980s and 1990s recession.”

Given that our workplaces are populated with members of multiple generations, Mussio believes leadership is critical in helping these disparate groups navigate our current circumstances. "For corporate and public leaders, I think strategic insight matters and, in this situation especially, to remaining open to unconventional views and a diversity of thought.”

Responding with Innovation

The rapid adoption of various technologies during the pandemic—from videoconferencing to telemedicine—has been widely reported. The sudden shift in spending more time at home accelerated the pace. But as Amle noted, an increased pace of innovation will likely continue.

“I cannot imagine how life would have been in the last pandemic where we didn’t have the technology to help us all get connected,” he said. “I think it's imperative for businesses to be online and in front of their customers through technology, and I think that goes hand-in-hand in other places where we’re going see innovation happen quickly,” he said. “Whether it's medical sciences, how we deal with the next pandemic, or how we make sure that we have the resiliency to survive another storm that comes through.”

That will have an effect on how Gen C interacts with the world at large. As Cran pointed out, younger generations essentially equate video chatting with face-to-face communication. Which is why it’s important to note that it’s not just about what types of innovations we’ll see come out of this moment, but how businesses use technology to serve the needs of their employees and customers. That’s particularly important when you consider the impact the technology could have on the various generations, from baby boomers on down.

"Technology can only be leveraged when it's focused on people first,” Cran said. “So if we look at technology and answer the question, How is this technology going to make life easier, better or simpler or more connected for everyone? Then we can all leverage technology, and I think we're seeing that happen.”

Shaping the Future

While the phrase “the new normal” gets thrown around a lot, our panelists had a different outlook.

"When people say new normal, my first question is: What is normal?” Cran said. “Because when you're living in constant change, which we all are, I think normal is constantly being redefined. So I would say that, from the corporate standpoint, the new normal is change. The new normal is flexibility. We are living a perpetual reality of change—that’s our new normal.”

With the pandemic, civil unrest and the election, to say that 2020 has been marked by disruption would be an understatement. But as Mussio makes clear, there have been similar generation-defining moments in history that we can use as a reference. And like the multiple challenges we’re currently facing, previous generations have also had to battle simultaneous disruptions, including war, periods of social unrest, economic emergencies and, yes, pandemics.

“There's been plenty of precedent in our own experience of how societies and communities can emerge stronger from the experience of adversity,” Mussio said. “I would say that the new normal, whatever it is, will depend on how we answer some questions. How are we going to treat people? How do we lower people's blood pressure and make them not terrified of the future? And the key point is that we do have that power. We have the power of the human agency to be able to shape the future—not completely control it, but shape it.”

Cran already sees signs of that with Gen C, noting the example of the 14-year-old girl who won a $25,000 prize for identifying a molecule that could lead to a potential COVID-19 cure.“We're talking about young people who are seeing this time as an opportunity to solve world problems,” Cran said. “I think Gen C is rising to the challenge. They’re saying we’ve got this global problem, and because they're so interconnected, because they can crowdsource, because they can data connect, and because they leverage technology for good, they're saying let's rise to the situation’s challenge and let's come up with solutions.”

Ultimately, this moment will bring about an increase in what Cran called “shared leadership,” in which collaboration and cooperation will be the key to adapting to our new realities—both in and out of the office.

“Everyone's going to have to increase their leadership abilities, whether they have that by title or not,” she said. “I choose as an optimist to say that I think we’ll be looking back with gratitude and say, Thank goodness this happened. So that we can listen to the Gen Cs and the Gen Zs and all the generations working together collaboratively to create the future that we want.”

1 CNN

About Expert Conversations

In this series we unpack how 2020 has changed the way we live and work forever. We’ll compare pre-2020, what we’ve learned throughout 2020 and where these leaders think 2021 will take us. We’ll reflect on seven broad topics, to help you prepare for and successfully establish a future-ready organization.


Catch up on episodes you missed or join us for our future episodes: 

Keeping a Pulse on Your People July 29, 2020

The Rise of Virtual Learning August 14, 2020

Workplace Transformation  August 26, 2020

How the Democratic Process Will Change September 9, 2020

Reshaping Talent September 23, 2020

How Everyday Life Has Changed October 7, 2020

How 2020 Will Shape a Generation October 21, 2020


TRANSCRIPT:

Eric Boles: Hello and welcome to another episode of Road to Recovery: Expert Conversations. I'm your host, Eric Boles. We've been talking in this series about how 2020 has changed and will continue to change how we all live and work. But for children, the impact is amplified. Their worldview is being shaped during this unprecedented time, and that will make this generation much different than any other we've seen. 

Eric Boles: My guests today bring insights from the past and present to understand how 2020 will shape a generation. Cheryl Cran is the CEO and founder of NextMapping, an organization that does research on the future of work and the leadership needed to navigate change in the workplace. Dr. Laurence Mussio is an author and historian and Yogesh Amle is the Managing Director of Technology Investment Banking at BMO. I want to thank all of our guests for joining me today. 

Eric Boles: We are going to jump right into it and this first question is going to be for you Doctor. The COVID pandemic has obviously been the headline of a chaotic 2020, but it has also been a year heightened by racial inequality and civil unrest, as well as political polarization. Are there points in history that we can look at that had a similar generational defining event? 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: Thanks very much Eric and I'm very, very pleased to be here with my fellow interlocutors. The short answer to your question is yes. There are points in history during which people and institutions faced tremendous challenges, and those challenges came not in ones, but they came often in threes or fours, that's what we're feeling today I think, that exposed disparities and divisions. Now there have been also times when societies have been challenged with medical, wartime or economic emergencies, social unrest and the like, and I'd like to make two quick points that our long run experience offers. 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: First, we talk about normal times and unprecedented times, right? And the fact is that our businesses and our citizens and our people and all the way we do things is built on both, right? So we build up our systems in normal or ordinary time, but also up and down on the decades, our experience has also been shaped by our responses to the unprecedented times, like the times we're facing now. And these times kind of test our perseverance and resilience so they shape us to rebalance what needs to change and what needs to endure.  That's one. 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: The second thing I would say very quickly is I think people need to hear as a lesson from history that those generation defining events we talk about are ultimately within our reach to shape , right? And to control even on specific questions, like what we do about racial or generational inequality. And that's what we see if we take the long view. Eric. 

Eric Boles: Thank you so much for that Doctor. This next question is going to be for you Cheryl, and kind of in the same lines, but how has this year impacted young people differently than adults? 

Cheryl Cran: Well, as Dr. Laurence said, we are in unprecedented times, these changes are including the COVID pandemic, the racial inequality as you mentioned. All these things are deeply impacting all generations. But for the purpose of speaking about Gen C, which has been labeled as generation COVID and that's for those that are under the age of 17, and we would actually overlap with the young adults that are in their college years or in that early education years as well, post-secondary school, is that what we're seeing is that for them this is a what we would call a pivotal lifetime moment or a lifetime lesson in the realities of change and disruption. 

Cheryl Cran: And so for Millennials, they have had to adapt to technology in the last decade. For Gen Cs, technology has been the lifesaver in this pandemic. It has allowed them to stay connected, it has allowed them to stay communicating. It has allowed them to be schooled remotely. Imagine if this pandemic had happened even a decade ago, we would not have been positioned for it. But from a generational standpoint, this is a generation that's being deeply affected by social change around how their parents have handled the pandemic, how it's affected their economic reality, how it's affected the way they connect. Some parents, and this is an anecdotal comment, some parents have said that this past year has allowed them to be more present in their Gen C's life and therefore have deeper familial connections, which would harken back to the times of the traditionalists and the postwar times of family when everybody ate dinner together and such. 

Cheryl Cran: So I think what we're seeing is societal impact for Gen C, obviously for all generations, but I think we're going to see ripple effects from the impact of what's happened in 2020 on Gen C for many years to come. 

Eric Boles: Thank you so much Cheryl. I want to, before I go to my next question that's going to be for Doctor again, I want to let our audience know, who are all engaging with us, thanks so much. Please send in your questions for our experts today. We'll love to be able to answer them at the end. So this next question's for you Doctor, and the question is, "How have past generations adapted during radical uncertainty?" 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: It's a great follow up question to what Cheryl has been saying about Gen C. And yes, it very much feels like we're in uncharted territory. And in uncharted territory, what's the use of experience? There's no playbook, the crisis mutates in real time and so forth. Yet there are some precedents to this unprecedented period and experience can guide us and does offer some direction. 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: And there's another thing that Cheryl was mentioning that radical uncertainty can fall unequally on different groups. Like for example, we're talking about Gen C, but how about Gen Z or Gen Zed if you're in Canada like I am. Gen Zed is graduating into a world of let's say citywide lock downs. As Cheryl has explained, Gen C has its own issues. Gen Xers, my generation, we're 900 years old now, but we've already had a taste of that by graduating into the late 1980s and 1990s recession and so forth. And so I think a lot of the lessons kind of focus on leadership, the need to understand what the needs of these generations are in this kind of radically uncertain time and to act decisively with all those generational and demographic uncertainties in mind, right? 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: So I would say for corporate and public leaders, I think strategic insight matters. And in this situation especially, maybe that's why we're having this conversation as well, to remaining open to unconventional views and a diversity of thought. And that's I think one of the things that the pandemic of 2020 is teaching us, or reminding us of these lessons. There are things that we can learn, but there are things that we kind of need to understand from our experience in order to deal with these things, things that Cheryl's talking about, things that I'm talking about as well. 

Eric Boles: Doctor, thanks so much for that. I was actually talking to some individuals who kind of fit in both those categories here recently, Gen C as well as Gen Z, and their approach to it was fascinating. Their resiliency is what was amazing to me in their approach to it. So those issues you just made about leadership is just right on. I just believe the way they're looking at things is so radically different in many cases in the way that we do. They may take the same principles, but how they repurpose it or how they evaluate and innovate off of it is fascinating. 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: Yeah. 

Eric Boles: This next question leads perfectly into, for Yogesh, and that is, "We've seen a lot of innovation in 2020 out of necessity. So what have some of the most game changing innovations been?" 

Yogesh Amle: Sure Eric. And first of all, thank you for having me on, I do want to maybe make a comment on the previous two questions that you asked and really interesting comments, right? Both from Cheryl and from Dr. Laurence around the impact or the role of technology here today. And just to rewind back in history, I can not imagine how life would have been in the last pandemic were we didn't have technology, or we didn't have the technology to help us all get connected. I believe our world would have been really different back then. And I think one of the big lifesavers I think today has been the fact that we have technology to help us all get connected, and not just for individuals, because as Cheryl said, with respect to the impact of this on Gen C, I think this is having a real impact on businesses as well. 

Yogesh Amle: So I would say that I think innovation, as we all say, necessity is the mother of all invention. And I think innovation has been pretty active all through in technology, and it is the hot hotbed, especially here in Silicon Valley. But I think what's interestingly happened is I think the pace of innovation, if anything, I think has just gotten even more quickened or I think it's going to be even more faster, right? 

Yogesh Amle: So you talk about the fact that what do we need to be connected to our individual worlds? So we are seeing obviously a rapid acceleration around adoption of digital transformation technologies, not just for individuals, but for businesses. I think it's imperative for businesses to be online and be in front of their customers through technology. And I think that goes hand-in-hand with also other places where we're going to see innovation happen quickly. Not just I think from a core technology perspective, but also other areas that have been impacted, whether it's medical sciences, whether it's how we deal with the next pandemic that comes, or how do we make sure that we have the resiliency to survive another storm that comes through? So I think multiple places I would say technology is going to have of innovation is going to get accelerated, but it's definitely an interesting topic. 

Eric Boles: Yeah. Yogesh, thank you so much for that. A quick reminder to the audience, please send in your questions for our experts here. We'll love to allow them to answer those when we get to the end. But as you were just talking about, the speed of technology and the adjustments Yogesh. When Yogesh, when you made that comment, there was the last session that we had, one of the users were like, "Before technology was a platform, now we find it being the platform." And so the adjustment that so many companies are making, it's just been heightened. 

Eric Boles: With that being said, this next question's for you Cheryl. And that question is, "Technology has been an increasingly integral part of life for Millennials and Gen Z. How has the accelerated innovation we've seen in 2020 changed how Gen C wants to use technology?" 

Cheryl Cran: Well, I love that question and it's so inspiring to me when I look at the stories of Gen Cs who are leveraging what's happening into solutions. Not just by leveraging technology, but leveraging healthcare innovation and leveraging wellbeing innovation. There was just a story yesterday of a young lady who at 17 has discovered a protein that can be used to help solve the COVID challenge. So we're talking about young people now who are seeing this time as an opportunity to solve world problems. Not to overly optimize the situation or glamorize it, but honestly Gen C inspires me. The number of stories that I could relate to tell you of how they're looking at what's happening as an opportunity for solution. 

Cheryl Cran: Part of the reason they can do that is on Maslow's hierarchy they're not dealing with survival like perhaps the 1918 pandemic created that survival reality. Because a lot of the Gen Cs are, they have a roof over their head, they're being fed. And of course I'm talking about middle-class, there's disparities to that comment. But generally, if their survival needs are met, then that increases the opportunity to have higher realization of solutions and creative innovation. 

Cheryl Cran: So I think Gen C is rising to the challenge. They're saying, "We've got this global problem," and because they're so interconnected and because they can crowdsource and because they can data connect and because they leverage technology for good. Now let's not get into the negative part of social media and technology, that's a whole other dialogue with the younger generations, but generally they're saying, "Let's rise to the situation's challenge and let's come up with solutions." I get super excited about it. 

Eric Boles: Cheryl, that's such a great insight. When you brought up Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I didn't consider that. That through this pandemic, yeah it's tough, but their survival needs are pretty much met. So they're living in a place of innovation and it's going to create unbelievable innovation we see from it. Thank you for that insight. I didn't connect that until you just made that mention. 

Eric Boles: With that being said, this is going to be a question for all three of you, and I'm going to begin with you first Cheryl. But the question is, "How should businesses adapt to the needs of their employees and their customers with technology, especially when you may have Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Gen Z and Gen C in one environment?" I want to begin that with you, Cheryl. 

Cheryl Cran: Thank you. So honestly, every generation, in my opinion, technology can only be leveraged when it's focused on people first. So if we look at technology and answering the question how is this technology going to make life easier, better, or simpler or more connected for everyone, then we can all leverage technology for good. And I think we're seeing that happen. From a corporate perspective and the clients that we've worked with, leveraging tools like Microsoft Teams, or leveraging Zoom as we've seen since the pandemic started, leveraging video technology. 

Cheryl Cran: For Gen C, Gen Z, and for Millennials, they have often seen Zoom or FaceTime as face-to-face. They didn't have that mental block of unless you're in person it's not meaningful. So I think what we're seeing is that technology, if it's a bridge to helping us solve problems, if we're leveraging it for connection, if we're leveraging it to bring the globe together, which is what we're doing, then every single generation I believe post pandemic we will have made huge leaps and bounds in leveraging technology for good . And I think with increased privacy, with increased monitoring of cyber bullying, with all the inherent challenges of technology, I think we're going to see solutions to that as well. 

Eric Boles: Thank you so much for that Cheryl. 

Eric Boles: Yogesh, I'm asking the same question of you. Will you build upon that? 

Yogesh Amle: Sure, no I'm happy to. So I think we talk about a concept which is called consumerization of enterprise technology, right? And I think it's all about how do you make technology easy to consume, easy to deliver and easy to consume, right? And I think with the different, as you said, like different stakeholders that we have, right? You've got the Baby Boomers on one hand, you've got the Millennials on the other hand. And I think each one of us requires I think an easy way or a more intuitive way to consume the technology. And I think that's basically what's going to happen, right? So I think you see enterprises or you see businesses being brick and mortar for the longest time and have had to now make the change to be online or get digital. So we're seeing that acceleration I think on the digital transformation side and I think that's being enabled by the core technologies. 

Yogesh Amle: But I would say there is also there are enabling technologies that I think are going to help I think make that bridge. So I think that's one. And the second thing I think, and Cheryl hit on this, which is I think important to keep in mind is also this concept around the understanding of technology for the various generations, right? And I think that goes hand-in-hand with concerns like privacy, like security, right? It's very easy, if I were to send something to my mom, I'm sure she will click on every single link that you send her, right? So I think it's important to also educate the various generations around what the impact of technology or consuming technology is around things like privacy, because I think that's going to be a really important I think factor to consider as we move forward. 

Eric Boles: Oh, thank you. How about you Doctor? 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: Well, I think I can only second what Cheryl and Yogesh are saying to a very large extent. I think that if you just look around these windows here this morning and you'll see, when we started out what kind of technology we had in our schooling, in our graduate schools and so forth, in our early careers, compared to what we've got now. There is a really huge step change. So you can imagine what Cheryl was saying about kind of digital natives in Generation C and how much more let's say potential they would have in leveraging the technology that Yogesh is talking about that great kind of consumerization. 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: I think that there is a, let's put it this way, there is that balance between dynamism and form, okay? So I think what we're talking about is the potential of unleashing the technology and unleashing it for good, for the creative spark, to foster innovation, to further science and so forth. And I think that is absolutely correct. The shadow side of it, right? Is not to be underestimated in terms of how we set the rules of the road, right? And so that is the dynamic part, the technology part, the wonderful part, the form, it's like what ends up on the cutting room floor, right? In terms of values, in terms of regulation, in terms of what governments have to do with it. 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: And I think that that discussion has to be had in the United States. It's looking to, let's say the courts or say certain constitutional values, in other jurisdictions like Canada, there are norms and conventions that we say, "Well look, there are some things that we would want the technology to unleash, but there are others that we need to kind of see what the kind of the public interest is in it," right? And I think every generation has tried to come to terms with that, that dynamic part and the form part, the structure part and the technology part. And I think this is the great challenge of the 2020s frankly, is how we're going to do that. 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: And so because we see such a potential in the technology, but we also know that there is a shadow side and how we deal with that in terms of companies, in terms of the state, in terms of social platforms, right? Is going to be a question that companies and enterprises will have to deal with. It's not something to the side. It's something that they will be engaging with with this upcoming generation as well. 

Eric Boles: Thank you Doctor. 

Eric Boles: Before we leave this question, Cheryl, do you have any more to add? 

Cheryl Cran: I was listening with great interest because I completely agree with what the doctor was saying. And in addition to that, the technology is sort of building upon itself. So it's not the panacea, it's not the answer to everything, I agree. It's human first, it's people first. The values have to be aligned. I agree with him that there's a shadow side. For example, AI is a great example where AI was being glamorized and now we realize that AI has bias and that it's not necessarily everything that we thought it was going to be. 

Cheryl Cran: And so I think that it's inherent on us as humans to, the technology is programmed by us humans, so it behooves us to have those higher intentions, those higher values, to link it and to catch those discrepancies and those shadows that the doctor pointed out so fluently and so brightly is that we have to be on top of this. Not to look and glamorize technology as a savior if you will, but more or less look at it as an enabler of creating economic realities that we all want, to participate in business opportunities. So I would just add that I think that the human values piece is absolutely needed in order to ensure technology does not become something that runs us. For sure. 

Eric Boles: No questions. Thank you so much. We've come to a question that has came in and we hear the expression new normal a lot. What do you think the new normal will look like, okay? And this question is actually directed to both Cheryl and Laurence. So I want to be clear, this question is asking, "We hear the expression new normal a lot. So what do you think the new normal will look like?" And Cheryl I want to begin that with you, and then I'm going to go to you Doctor. 

Cheryl Cran: Well, first of all, I don't think there is, when people say new normal, my first question is what is normal? Because when you're living in constant change, which we all are, I think normal is constantly being redefined. And so I would say that the new normal from a corporate standpoint is that, and from a business standpoint, the new normal is change. The new normal is flexibility. The new normal is agility. The new normal is leaders who need to be able to pivot from a standard hierarchical way of leading and running a business to a much more organic, holistic, ochlocracy type model of the workplace. I think the new normal is a hybrid. There's going to be in-office realities that people will still come back into the office and then there's going to be this heightened remote work reality. Companies like Twitter and Google are saying, "We're going fully remote from now on." They're going to use WeWork hubs and hubs and things like that. And some businesses are already doing that and have been doing that pre-pandemic. 

Cheryl Cran: So the new normal, I would say we need to be flexible, agile. That business needs to look at ways to add value through their values as a business provider, but also looking at what we've been talking about in this interview around the different generational needs and what they're looking for and how they can benefit from all the change that's going on. So it's requiring a new normal of adaptation in our personal lives, in our professional lives, the way we run our businesses, the way we lead. And I would say the keyword to that is flexibility and agility and I would say it starts with mindset. If you can't wrap your head and mind around the fact that things are not fixed, not all things, some things will never change, but generally we are living in a perpetual reality of change. I think that's our new normal. 

Eric Boles: Got you. Thank you so much. How about you Doctor? 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: Well, that's an amazing answer Cheryl. Thank you. The desire to return to normal is very strong. I was reading in the Financial Times just a few days ago that there are actual apps that recreate the sounds of an office that you can play at home, right? And so there is a desire, the reluctance to change a little bit is kind of deeply ingrained in some ways. And I couldn't agree with Cheryl more, obviously. It'll be a continuous process of discovery, and it's hard to see where it's going because we seem as a society as divided and polarized, but there are signs. As Cheryl was mentioning, some of it will be good. I mean nine out of 10 workers or there abouts who've had a taste of working from home want to be free to choose when the restrictions ease where they should work. So that is one change. 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: But generally speaking I would say this, our fate I think is to muddle through. We're going to have to muddle through. There's plenty of precedent in our own experience how societies and communities emerge or can emerge stronger from the experience of adversity. And I would say that the new normal, whatever it is, will depend on how we answer some questions. How are we going to treat people? How do we lower people's blood pressure and make them not terrified of the future in some ways? 

Dr. Laurence B. Mussio: And the key point as I mentioned in my opening remarks, is that we do have that power. And I think that is one of the kind of silver threads that is running through this conversation is that we have the power or the human agency to be able to shape the future, not completely control it, but I would say shape it as Yogesh and Cheryl have said in their remarks. And it's what people have done up and down the centuries. They've tried to change things for the better, and they've tried to grapple with some of the kind of major forces of history and we've muddled through it. So we're not doing too badly so far. 

Eric Boles: Great, great. 

Eric Boles: Yogesh, I'm going to ask you to also chime in, not only on what we just asked, but the next question I wanted to ask you as well. So I want you to do both. 

Yogesh Amle: Sure. 

Eric Boles: And that next question was, "Can the pace of innovation continue?" So I want you to speak on what we just talked about a new normal, and I want you to talk about can the pace of this innovation continue? 

Yogesh Amle: Sure. Yeah, and look I think that's a great both parts of the question, right? And on the new normal side, I mean just to give a little perspective from our BMO side, we are in the client servicing business, right? And I think we never, ever imagined at least in the banking side, it is a sacrilege if you aren't in front of your clients, you aren't making that human connection. And I would say over the last six, seven months, we've had to transform our business model completely to take advantage of technology, right? So it's 100% remote. And I think to the question around new normal, I think we are going to see I think some parts of that I think stay, even when we go back to the normal. So especially for in the client servicing side, I think you're going to see I think a permanent change with respect to how we conduct business at least from a BMO perspective. 

Yogesh Amle: And then I think with respect to your second question Eric, I think on the pace of innovation, I think we are only seeing that happen. I mean you live and breathe this in Silicon Valley every single day and you meet with all these entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who are taking a real view into what and how things are changing and what should happen with respect to how to make things better, with respect to through technology or through innovation. So we are already seeing I think a lot of capital kind of going into or being committed into startups or into areas where you're going to see a lot of great innovation. Whether it's in terms of how we work, how we get connected, new norms around security, around privacy, around medical sciences, right? So I think if anything, one thing is pretty clear, that the pace of innovation is going to get accelerated I think because of what we've just been facing. 

Eric Boles: Yogesh, thank you so much. This conversation that we've had today talking about the impact of these changes and the experience that we're living in, how it impacts our younger generation. We've also been able to talk about how it impacts how we do business. One thing that has definitely came forward is our experts have helped many of us instead of fearing the future, get a little more comfortable with what the future might look like. I mean no one can predict it exactly, but removing the fear of uncertainty seems to be a major opportunity for all of us, right? I was just on a phone call with my mother last night on FaceTime and I realized I don't remember the last time she's actually dialed my number. She actually FaceTimes me every time. So I see every generation starting to embrace technology. But I would love, Cheryl if you don't mind, maybe giving just a last closing thoughts around thinking about the next three to five years, what you can possibly see with that, and then I close right after that. I would love for you to just give one more thought about that. 

Cheryl Cran: Well, I think what Dr. Laurence said about our job is to lower the blood pressure of everyone as we deal with uncertainty. I think that was really succinctly said and well said about the future. Nobody has a crystal ball. Nobody can predict the future. What we can do is look at the past and the patterns and look at how we've dealt with those past challenges and situations. And then what we can do is do what humans do best, which is come up with that mindset of resolve and look at how can we solve the challenges that are before us now. 

Cheryl Cran: So I would say quite simply in the next three to five years, further to what we all have mentioned today on the interview, everyone's input around the new normal has changed. The new normal is technology innovation. That from a business standpoint, leaders are going to need to increase their agility and ability to lead in this new normal, to lead remote teams versus just an in office team. What does that look like? What does that mean? I think we're going to see an increase of shared leadership, which means that everyone's going to have to increase their leadership abilities, whether they have that by title or not. We're going to see an increase in accountability and autonomy. 

Cheryl Cran: But more than that, I'm an optimist at heart. So I see the next three to five years, we're going to look back at 2020, and we're all going to say, "Oh my gosh, can you believe what we all lived through? And can you believe the innovation that it forced each of us personally, professionally and corporately to have to endure?" So I think we're going to look back at this as a pivotal time of our reality, where we all had to adapt and change. And I choose as an optimist to say that I think we'll be looking back with gratitude and say, "Thank goodness this happened so that we could listen to the Gen Cs and the Gen Zs and all the generations coming together, working together collaboratively to create the future that we want to create." 

Eric Boles: Thank you so much Cheryl for sharing that. All our goal is not to just to survive this, but fortunately I believe we will all thrive through this together in the way that you just described. So I want to thank you, Cheryl. I want to thank you Yogesh. I want to thank you Doctor for these great conversations today. To everyone watching, I want to thank you for engaging with us. And if you would like to watch the previous six episodes of this series, please visit BMO.com/expertconversations. Until next time, thank you all so much for joining us. 

Read more

PART 1

Keeping a Pulse on Your People – Expert Conversations

July 29, 2020

Every level of an organization is working in a different environment than before, whether working remotely or on the frontlines, to ensure you&rs...


PART 2

The Rise of Virtual Learning – Expert Conversations

August 14, 2020

  For years, schools and businesses have been migrating to more eLearning. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, schools closed and businesses c...


PART 3

Workplace Transformation - Expert Conversations

August 31, 2020

  The workplaces that many people had to leave in March 2020 will probably never look the same as they did in February. Organizations of al...


PART 4

How the Democratic Process Will Change - Expert Conversations

September 11, 2020

One thing is clear: this election season is like nothing we’ve ever seen. We’ve already had virtual presidential nominating conventio...


PART 5

Reshaping Talent - Expert Conversations

September 25, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way many of us performed our jobs. Meanwhile, events surrounding racial injustice put a spotlight on how busine...


PART 6

How Everyday Life Has Changed - Expert Conversations

October 13, 2020

  The pandemic has altered just about every aspect of our lives: how we interact with people, how we work, how we shop and how we...




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