Hanover

21 Sep 2022

Political precedents have fallen like dominoes in recent years. Old certainties have collapsed under the weight of populist politics, geopolitical tensions and rapid digital advances. ‘Unprecedented’ has become a hackneyed refrain in itself.

A rewired world requires dialogue, not just delivery of a message. Authenticity, not just authority. Engagement, not just communication.

This would hardly surprise a political scientist. Voter realignment and mistrust of authority have long been observed in their studies. The difference now is the speed of change and the impact it is having on everyday business processes and decisions.

For business leaders, the route to shaping your operating environment – and protecting jobs and profits – is more complex than ever. A rewired world requires dialogue, not just delivery of a message. Authenticity, not just authority. Engagement, not just communication. Executives now need to learn the powers of persuasion that have always been the hallmark of politicians.

Yet, in another sense, the path we need to take to protect the bottom line is also clear. If the financial crisis began the journey back towards high levels of state intervention, then Covid-19 hit the accelerator pedal. This was a necessary response to the horrifying scale of the pandemic, and we can all be grateful for the steps governments around the world took to keep us safe. How long this big government remains will be one of the most important ideological debates of the coming years.

Past crises, such as the world wars, led to a lasting increase in the size of the state. We are undoubtedly living through another such moment. In these circumstances, we will rely on the ability of the regulated to talk constructively to the regulators in order to deliver good government for us all – good public services, a functioning economy, prosperity and wellbeing.

We all have a role to play in ensuring this happens, whether as voters or good corporate citizens. We can but hope that, as well as the government we deserve, we also get the government we need. In this new age of the uncertain, the power to inform and influence decisions will be critical.