Black Swan Or Not: The End Of… Complacency?

As we implement the plans to Build Our Future, we must continue to look out for possible black swans, which are extreme outlier events that are difficult to predict and have a massive impact that changes people’s worldviews.

In the first months of 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak has already had profound consequences on the economies of many countries and global supply chains. The healthcare, tourism and transport industries are among the hardest hit, with effects also felt in e-commerce, events and construction as work is disrupted.

As people stayed home and travelled less, China’s carbon emissions dropped by some 100 million metric tonnes over two weeks in February, according to a study by Finland’s Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

While analysts such as economist Dr Tomasz Brodzicki of IHS Markit call the COVID-19 a significant black swan for 2020, others disagree. Past viral outbreaks like SARS and the avian flu were opportunities for governments and businesses to be prepared for similar disruptions, writes Asia Business Council executive director Mark Clifford in the South China Morning Post.

In Singapore, telecommuting may become the new normal as office workers, made to work in split teams or entirely from home, experience the benefits of working remotely even for business-as-usual. Wearing masks may go beyond the haze season as people grow more conscious about being socially responsible when ill.

Black swan or not, the COVID-19 outbreak is a timely reminder that we must always be prepared to respond to unexpected changes around us.

Read more: Future Beasts And Where to Find Them


To sum up, Building Our Future is our game plan that pulls together the three key priorities of our Public Service.

Watch Head, Civil Service, Leo Yip speak at the (accessible from intranet) about these three priorities for building our future.

Puzzle pieces
    Mar 19, 2020
    Tuber and Strategy Group, Prime Minister’s Office
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