Covid-19 (Breaking the Fever)

Covid-19 Breaking the FeverPreventable Surprises and Ethical Systems are pleased to invite you to Breaking the Fever, an online mini-series. We are convening thoughtful and creative experts to stimulate ideas on what we can do as individuals and institutions to tame the pandemic today and to make our societies and economies more resilient tomorrow. 

Breaking the Fever takes place most Tuesdays at 11am EST (8am PT, 4pm GMT, 5pm CET).  Join our LinkedIn Group for updates.

Coming up:

  • On 26 May: Raj Thamotheram, founder and senior advisor, Preventable Surprises, on responsible investment and Covid-19 (register here)
  • On 2 June: Josephine Nelson, associate professor of law at Villanova University on corporate surveillance and human rights – and how pandemics present an escalation of existing trends (register here)
  • On 9 June: Navtej Sarna, former Indian Ambassador to the US, on the pandemic and diplomatic, cultural and economic relations between India, the United States and the world. (register here)
  • On 16 June: Jenny Vaughan, Human Rights Director at BSR (registration coming soon)

Past episodes:


On 19 May: Peter Christian Hall, spoke about his 2012 novel, American Fever: A Tale of Romance and Pestilence. In this episode, we talk about fiction, about history, the lived experience and how to navigate the medical and political unknown in the coming weeks and months. on pandemics, social change and imagining dystopia. Listen here

On 12 May, Charles Green, CEO, Trusted Advisors Associates, put people back at the center of the trust equation. A fascinating look at what it takes to give, and to receive, trust, in fractured times. Listen here.

On 5 May, Dr. Jill Atkins, Chair in Financial Management, Sheffield University Management School, set the outline of a global agenda for finance, business and biodiversity – as the pandemic is increasing attention to the matter. Listen here.

Episode 5 (28 April) featured Damon Silvers, special counsel at the AFL-CIO. From the echoes of corporate power in the 1920’s to the reverberations of the 2008 crisis, from workers’ rights to instability of the financial system, we covered so much ground. One takeaway: America’s economic system was built to fail its people in a pandemic. Listen here.

On 21 April  we welcomed futurist Ben Hammersley. “How Not To Be Super Wrong About Unknowable Things: Caveats, heuristics, and upsetting truths about thinking about The Future.” Visions of the future are linear narratives, but reality is more complex. The future is not a destination, but people will sell it that way (over the past 20 years, futurism has mostly been about selling the exponential growth curve of technologies). Rather than make predictions about facts, it’s best to develop frameworks that help organisations prepare for changes, and shared mental models to equip people to respond to events…and many more nuggets and illustrations. Michele Wucker joined the discussion. Listen here. Read: It’s the Trolley Problem, Stupid! a follow up post Ben wrote with Preventable Surprises Founder Raj Thamotheram.

April 14th’ episode featured Charles Hecker, Global Research Director at Control Risks. Charles is responsible for Control Risks’ thought leadership on geopolitics, global security, political risk and their impact on international business, including the annual RiskMap process. He led a nuanced discussion on how Covid-19 affects political and security risk dynamics in 2020, revisiting Control Risks’ 2020 Riskmap in light of these developments. Listen to the recording.

On April 7th, we were delighted to welcome Gillian Marcelle, PhD. a blended finance and international development expert, who led a conversation on reframing our shared understanding of innovation, resilience and systems change. Read her thoughts or listen to the recording.

Opening the series on March 31st was Chicago-based strategist Michele Wucker, author of the international bestseller THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore. Her recent Washington Post article, “No, the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t an ‘unforeseen problem’“ challenges the idea that the virus and related market meltdown are “black swan” events that “nobody saw coming.”  We re-recorded this episode on May 18th – listen here.

Useful readings and videos:

On ecology:
On how the pandemic revealed failures in America:
Damon Silvers on the future of work through the lens of the gig economy and pandemic:
Bonitta Roy on a tale of two systems:
On finding meaning and creativity in adversity:

The US National Intelligence Council 2017 report had concerns about pandemics:

The Great Lockdown: IMF’s world economic outlook (April 2020):

Countries without lockdowns are in a state of economic free fall too (paywall):

Jane Goodall on Covid-19 as an opportunity to rethink our relationship to the natural world:

Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions:

Duncan Austin’s early warning on flattening the curve:

Michele Wucker on the information we choose to share:

Peter Christian Hall on the decisions we face:

Margaret Heffernan on wilful blindness:

Psychology of Isolation and quarantine:

Parenting and the workplace in confinement:

Yuval Hariri on the world after Coronavirus:

More on the long term changes in motion: (highly recommended)