Bill Gates is in the news a lot lately. Part of that is because he's a well-known figure who happens to be passionate about public health. Part of it is probably the fact that he previously predicted that we'd face a pandemic and that we wouldn't be prepared. There's also the part where his foundation has been at the center of much of the effort to battle the current pandemic.
In any case, it seems like Gates is almost always giving interviews to talk about what we need to do to get past the pandemic.
"I'm very hopeful that by summer we will be able to go back to offices and open up those restaurants and bars," says Bill Gates on the future of the US Covid-19 pandemic.-- Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) November 20, 2020
But with another 2,000 deaths today, Gates says "right now... we're headed into this significant increase." pic.twitter.com/7U295GqDi5
On Thursday, Gates gave one of those interviews, this time to CNN's Anderson Cooper and he gave the clearest approximation of what went wrong with 2020:
"You know we'll look back and wish that we had done more before the epidemic it and done a better job during the epidemic"
No matter how you look at it, that pretty much sums up the state of where we're at right now. Most of us certainly wish we'd done more ahead of time. If you or I had known in January, for example, how radically different the world would look a few months later, we would have probably done a few things to prepare, both in our business and personally.
Very few people predicted that we might experience this pandemic. Almost no one understood what it would be like to live through it. We can certainly debate the reasons why that was the case, but the reality is that, as Gates points out, we look back and realize that we probably should have been better prepared.
And, I think we can agree, we could have done a better job during the pandemic. If we had, especially early on, there's a chance we wouldn't be heading into another wave of increasing cases and inevitable shutdowns.
Of course, you can't go back and get more prepared for whatever you're experiencing right now. While you're still stuck in a mess, you have to keep looking forward to find your way out.
What you can do is learn from that experience, and figure out how to prepare for the next thing, because--make no mistake--there will be a next thing. That's why Gates' message is especially important. What you do now determines how you'll be prepared for whatever comes next.
It's probably worth spending some time making sure that the systems and processes in your business are able to handle circumstances in the future. Sure, it's difficult to know what exactly those circumstances will look like--It may not be a pandemic. It might not be a financial recession. You simply can't know.
You can, however, made an intentional effort to prepare your business. You can develop systems and processes so that you're able to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. You can make it easier for your team to be productive regardless of whether they're working in an office, or at home, or wherever.
The lesson isn't that you can know what's going to happen, the lesson is that you should prepare for it anyway.