Home/ Blog/ Disruption/ Here’s to the Laggards, the Also Rans, the Leaders, the Winners and Changemakers

Here’s to the Laggards, the Also Rans, the Leaders, the Winners and Changemakers

Which persona do you want to be? What you choose, you become.

The advent of Coronavirus (aka COVID-19), which manifested globally since early 2020 has upset the socio, economic, and geopolitical equations. A crisis of this scale has taken the world by surprise. We have become captive to an invisible enemy. We never thought this could happen, but it did. The crisis has made us more human, resilient, and willing to embrace change. But time is now to look at the big picture, rather than fixated on a crisis-driven optics. Successful companies are defined by their uncanny ability to navigate the currents and headwinds and never lose sight of their set destination and goals.


The scheme of events over the last year implores us to seek out answers to some of the most pressing questions the pandemic has put in front of us. The most basic and profound ones being- Why did this happen? Why our lives have changed in ways we have never imagined? Futurists and philosophers since time immemorial have decoded these disruptive events and advanced numerous thoughts on how adverse events demolish established conventions and the status quo, and separate leaders from laggards.

Probing back in time, we bump on many interesting theories and observations. Like one school of thought that says every eighty years the world is faced by calamitous events that re-sets the trajectory of human existence. While many lack scientific and scholarly scrutiny, but one of the theories that’s dusted out in recent times is the Strauss–Howe generational theory, also called the Fourth Turning theory. “Advanced by two US academicians – William Strauss and Neil Howe, they advocated a thesis that historical events are associated with recurring generational personas (archetypes). Each generational persona unleashes a new era (called a turning) lasting around 20-25 years, in which a new social, political, and economic climate (mood) exists. They are part of a larger cyclical “saeculum” (a long human life, which usually spans between 80 and 100 years, although some saecula have lasted longer).”[i]

We have seen this theory playing out in many ways, and social generations such as Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z et al are a popular part of our vocabulary. We at Nihilent have ourselves seen a Gen U, a generation that was nurtured by social media, particularly YouTube, which threatens to shape the digital future for one and all living today.

Boldly, if we stretch the Fourth Turning theory a bit more, the emerging archetype can very well be the infamous life-altering ‘Virus’ or a ‘Changemaker’. A disruptive event that has shifted the human experience and consciousness that which tells us, rather than going back and restoring normalcy, it’s prudent to embrace the headwinds and what ultimately came to be defined as the ‘New Normal’- a catalyst of change amid chaos.


The pandemic is separating leaders from laggards. Organizations that had prioritized the customers’ needs, wants and aspirations are quickly morphing to the dynamics of the altered reality. They are decoding the divergent customer personas and mapping themselves to stay relevant. Customers today are having much greater bargaining power as they operate as ‘communities’ and influencers on social media. These communities drive new consumption patterns and identifying and leveraging these early enough becomes critical to the success of the brands, products, and their services.

We would like to focus on this one important pillar of every business – the customer. Let’s try and decode how can we as business leaders not just satisfy, but delight by giving memorable experiences to them. To meet the demanding customer expectations, businesses must constantly reconfigure their offerings to these communities by continuously listening, strategizing, transforming, and validating. Accountabilities for these changes require every line of business involvement to ensure the transformations meet expectations. Metrics to manage these changes have evolved, and companies need to constantly learn, recalibrate and implement changes to build sustainable businesses and to make profits sustainable. Businesses should design themselves and their operating model constituents as modular LEGO blocks, so they can be quickly re-configured as we respond to changing market dynamics, being shaped by the pandemic with every passing day, that will be the key to winning in the post-covid digital future.


The concern is, most organizations do not have the mindset, capability, or budgets to transform from the traditional enterprises to the interactive businesses required to survive in this chaos all by themselves. So, the problem for most businesses relates very well to the old adage: How do we paint the plane whilst flying it? and constantly change the colour, the food, the seats, the engine, and comfort based on our customer’s needs and aspirations. It leads to an agile thinking mindset, like continuous integration and continuous delivery. A classic example of a DevOps approach.

We are at a very critical inflection point. And time is now to connect the dots to create an experience delivery matrix that works for your organization, but more importantly for your customer.


[i] Strauss–Howe Generational Theory