Read on the street 18 July 2020
“The times they are a’changing”, is as relevant a song today as it was at its release in 1964. And 2020 isn’t all bad because amongst the eye-popping horrors, it’s also the year Bob Dylan handed us the next chapter in our shared culture with his new album Rough and Rowdy Ways. Track one, “I Contain Multitudes” recalls Whitman’s “Song of Myself” but brings it bang up to date with lyrics that capture the essence of this age.
His great lesson? Creativity thrives in chaos, contradiction and the absurdity and abundance of the human experience. Great leaps forward don’t arise because of piles of cash, they take normal people having a good idea and acting on it together with unwavering effort and commitment. With that in mind we came up with a selection of advice and support for businesses this week on reform without money and we’ve chosen some pieces below that continue with the theme of transformation, alchemy and rebirth.
I hope you enjoy them and have a great weekend.
“I'll keep the path open, the path in my mind
I'll see to it that there's no love left behind
I'll play Beethoven's sonatas, and Chopin's preludes
I contain multitudes”
- Bob Dylan
How pandemics wreak havoc – and open minds
And perfectly on theme we kick off the reading list with an exploration of the aftermath of historical plagues in the New Yorker. Lawrence Wright argues that great crises often bring with them vast social and cultural renewal. Will coronavirus offer a similar opportunity for a radical rethink? Are we on the brink of a 21st century Renaissance?
Read in the New Yorker.
Invest in the early years, save in the later years
We wrote earlier this month about the need for a shift in tone around childcare to enable more parents, and particularly women, to work. Philip Collins agrees. Writing in The Times, he notes that, with fertility rates falling and fast, investing in the early years could defuse the demographic time bomb and improve life chances. This is a fantastic piece which highlights the value in those who look after our children for aiding progress and development and, ultimately, future-proofing our economies and societies.
Read in The Times.
Want more diversity? Reward CEOs for it
Now I know we said you don’t need piles of cash for change to happen but guess what, I’m going to contradict myself. When it comes to making diversity a reality in big companies, nothing makes it happen faster than linking the chief executive’s pay packet with company diversity goals. So what are you waiting for?
Read in The New York Times.
The Great Reset
But what if we don’t change? Sam Meredith unpacks the risks of failure as predicted by the founder of the World Economic Forum on CNBC. Professor Klaus Schwab believes that the global health crisis has “magnified the fault lines that already beset our societies” and we are now at a “fundamental inflection point in our global trajectory”.
Read on CNBC.
Purpose isn’t optional
What do investors want? Environmental, social and governance credentials for their investments. How will they get them? Not by every company making up its own framework, that is for sure. Slowly but surely the sustainability movement has moved into the mainstream and best practice has become much easier to identify and audit. This report brings the case for purpose-driven business together and is essential reading for anyone who wants to start, grow or lead a purpose-driven business.
Read at Regenerate.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt after 22 years of work, it’s to turn the computer off and on again before calling IT support. And there my understanding of software and hardware begins and ends. It seems I am not alone. The Volkswagen ID.3 was meant to be launching as the “Tesla killer” this summer but so far it hasn’t made it out of the garage – software problems apparently. This article explains why the complexity of coding and programming is confounded by the pace of change in software engineering that makes working systems obsolete in record time.
Read in The Economist.
Michaela Coel on Making 'I May Destroy You'
So many people will be walking through the doors Michaela Coel has smashed opened with this work in the years to come. It is a masterpiece. Listen to her here talking about, amongst other things, her experience of having her creativity and talent consistently denied by well-meaning white executives even as she was being hailed as the poster girl for diversity and inclusion.
Listen on The New Yorker Radio Hour.
Written by Harriet Moll, creative director