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OP-ED: Disruption is the new normal

  • Published at 06:33 pm September 29th, 2021

It is no longer good enough to shake the tree -- uprooting is the preferred way

Disruption was coming with or without the pandemic. Much before the “new normal” theories of changes to lives and livelihoods spurred by innovative adaptions during forced quarantines, interesting work was afoot. 

The enabler was technology that pointed to fascinating landscapes. There was the ominous along with it. So much so that avowed goals of making the world a better and more sustainable place suddenly looked forlorn. Top businesses embraced the disruptive model that originated from the trending view. 

It is no longer good enough to “shake the tree,” uprooting is the preferred route. 

Obviously, savvy businesses ease in the change rather than act on impulse. What used to be “challenge traditional thinking” or “think outside the box” has been replaced by the word “disruptive,” that is to turn everything topsy-turvy. 

That may be well and good. What emerges from the resultant mess hasn’t been answered. This form of social engineering, frowned upon not too long ago, is actually happening. Those that had been suspicious about the actual intent of product promotion, at least a part of it, were actually correct. 

The darker side of creating demand has increased debt individually and collectively. The pursuit continues with human resources seeking ways of connecting data from analytics to different platforms. The reasoning is it will lead to better retention and personal connectivity with company goals. How long this trend sustains is a key question in the mix.

Donald Trump changed politics and helmsmanship with a disruptive force never seen before. Joe Biden was to have brought what roughly half of the United States and much of the world was expecting. Stability and a return to normalcy. Expectations akin to squeezing toothpaste back into the tube. 

Diverting the world through creation of the Quad, Biden chose the path of AUKUS. It said a lot of his confidence in Nato, the European Union, and even India, the country that hobnobbed most with Trump getting diddly-doo out of it. A bewildered United Kingdom, bereft of ideas once out of the common market, was a lame duck, more so since Boris Johnson’s high hopes of an FTA with the US was torpedoed. 

What it must have taken to convince Australia to scuttle a $65 billion submarine deal with France! 

The flustered French are drowning in their champagne and India is left clueless. Biden has applied a salve by setting high sounding morals over Quad, but the murmurs of discontent are growing. This was disruption of the highest order. 

Build back better, the theme of the inexplicit anti-China policy has as dressing plenty of funds to address the issues facing most of the world in achieving Sustainable Development goals targets. The Bidens, Johnsons, and Morrisons of the world know fully well disruption comes with collateral damage. 

Angela Merkel won’t be around to point out that all the money being promised, as with previous commitments, can’t be plucked from thin air. Climate change has already crossed the deadline for action. 

As nations scurry towards a meaningful COP in November, countries dependent on fossil-fuel extraction for their wealth could be left out in the cold. Those most affected by what the phenomenon has inflicted, can plead their case. 

Sadly, disruption takes no prisoners and gives no quarter. The likelihood is that until a newer version or more effective global organization such as the United Nations emerges, the forgotten world will be left to fend for themselves. 

Home-grown ideas will have to drive progress. Self-sufficiency is an all-encompassing theory that cannot function in bits and pieces. Globalization as we knew it is fast dying. Reducing dependence on globalization and looking inwards is a tall order that nationalists are missing out on. 

As evinced by the mass migration from cities during festivals, disruption and self-centred approaches to life are irrevocably changing -- indeed have changed -- the concept called family. Self-centrism drives loneliness and the logical consequence of joint efforts. That worked well in the past. Perhaps a disruption to this can be next on the agenda for social scientists. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.

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