The Grey Swan Guild News Wrap — The Week That Was March 26, 2021 —

Edition #10

These are the series of stories and headlines we are tracking in the Grey Swan Guild’s Global League of Sensemakers’ Newsroom. Remember it’s both the tail end of the International Ideas Month and Earth Hour today so make sure you generate some great breakthroughs in the dark. Earth Hour may save some evergreens, but unfortunately not all of them (Suez Canal pun intended, on Spotify, queue up Steelers Wheel, “Stuck in the Middle with You”).

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

Here is The Great, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of what we observed this week. Also note, we will discuss many of these headlines on Clubhouse, the podcast-meets-social media network that seems to have taken part of the world by storm, for the first time this Sunday. Join us.

It was Earth Hour this weekend. It didn't seem to be as big of a thing this year but maybe some family Zoom was done by candlelight with some Krispy Kremes. Read on…

This Wrap looks across the world of work and finds work indeed has changed from the days put into the office. It’s getting real, it's no longer the future of work, it is how we work. And, donuts. Really sweet, free donuts. All year. Seriously.

Not everything is Fraggle Rock, dog parks and quarantinis.

SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies) are still troubling. The Social Media Giants are still giving our data away, the US is getting less democratic, and even though there is less war, there are still serious conflicts with 100,000 fatalities around the world.

Meanwhile, volcanoes are spewing in Iceland and it doesn't make the front pages. Hmmmm… 2021 isn’t 2020, but it still has a lot of its character. Keep an eye out and learn how to manage the chaos.

The Great 😇

Photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash

1.Doh! We mean D’oh-nuts. Krispy Kreme will offer free doughnuts — all year long — to people with COVID-19 vaccination cards. Incentives are the new gamification (for those interested —subtle nudge-ability is a thing). This has the sticky fingers of behaviour economics nudging our way with sugar, one of the most addictive substances on earth — Sweet, Sweet Sugar. Governments have adopted nudges across lockdown measures, mask-wearing and patio season. So here's the deal. You get the jab and you get Krispy Kremes for a year.

The chain says it will offer a free original glazed doughnut to anyone who shows their vaccination card for the rest of 2021, starting today. And the offer is not a one-time deal.Customers can come in any day, at any time, to claim the free treat. No additional purchase is necessary. Krispy Kreme says it also plans to randomly deliver doughnuts to health care workers and volunteers at vaccination centers in the coming weeks.

We wonder who measures the long-term effects of sugar mixed into the vaccine program. Regardless, the front runner for our cause marketing campaign of the year.— Source: Fortune Magazine.

2.Renovate it and they will come. This year’s Pritzker Prize, the highest award in architecture, went to Lacaton and Vassal: French architects who rejected estate demolition and instead renovated public housing — keeping residents in place.

There could be no possible explanation for their demolition on architectural or social grounds — the only explanations would be monetary (a council, here Lambeth, selling up to avoid running out of cash) or political (an opposition to the notion of council housing — let alone just opposite Parliament).

The Architects have to find places with good bones and design what to change and how to change it while people live their lives. That’s like renovating an airplane while it's flying. It is impressive design thinking. And, it is also so sustainable and organic to be able to, literally, grow housing abodes in a city. Perhaps one day, demolition-architecture that razes the past will be seen as barbaric at the sacking of Rome was to Romans. — Source: The Tribune Magazine UK.

Lacaton & Vassal — Selected Work — FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault

3. Calling Hogwarts. Quantum physicists are re-writing the laws of cause- and-effect. This idea of two states very different that can happen at the same moment. Causality is indeterminate. This is a phenomenon called Superposition. After decades of research based on quantum theory, it feels like applications like quantum switches and quantum metrology will start to be manufactured and placed in the service of humanity.

Over the last decade, quantum physicists have been exploring the implications of a strange realization: In principle, both versions of the story can happen at once. That is, events can occur in an indefinite causal order, where both “A causes B” and “B causes A” are simultaneously true.

One of the possible uses of this technology is to create very fine measurement tools that do not affect or destroy the material it is measuring. Think no more than X-rays or MRIs. And, an incredible molecular level scan of anybody or anything. Pretty much all of this will look like magic to us because it is so advanced compared to today's technology. Ricktusemper Ridikkulous. — Source: Wired Magazine

The Good 😀

Photo by Iuliia Isakova on Unsplash

1.Any way you want it, that's the way we need it. Recent analysis by management consultants at McKinsey & Company found that 20 to 25 percent of the workforces in “advanced economies” could continue working from home somewhere between three and five days a week. The bump is roughly four to five times higher than the amount of work conducted outside of the office before the pandemic’s onset. This remakes modern economies. Impacts will be seen in downtowns, traffic, transit, education, real estate and the future of work. With this experiment, the capital deployed for this capability as a utility with clear profit will be readily available. Governments and businesses will have to do it to be competitive. It makes sense the capability will be rolled out everywhere in each country across the next decades. We assume this may ease the need for Goldman Sachs to work its junior bankers 100 hrs a week, at the office at least. — Source: McKinsey &

2. Our dogs are drooling. Fewer Desks, More Green: What Amazon’s HQ2 Says About the Future of Office Design. The plans for the $2.5 billion campus in Arlington, Virginia, offer a glimpse into the post-Covid workplace. Will the office begin to look more like conference centers and fancy hotels that we visit to collaborate and work together? And does this headquarters represent a polished-up vestige of a previous style of centralized work or a bold attempt for all of us to seek aesthetic pleasure in getting back to the office?

The plan for the $2.5 billion complex in Arlington, Virginia, features a spiral double-helix glass tower with two lushly landscaped pedestrian paths. There are also 2.5 acres of open public space that include a dog run, stores, daycare facilities, and restaurants. The designs can yield a wealth of ideas for businesses rethinking their own workplace for the post-Covid world.

The people in the office will be feeling like they are in the latest Star Trek movie — Source: Inc Magazine

The Helix-shaped Amazon HQ2 building slated for completion in 2025

3. Who’s zooming who? In a continued look at the bright side of work. Citigroup is the first big bank to offer hybrid work and takes steps like limiting in-office Zoom meetings or meetings outside of normal working hours. Looks like the new “bankers’ hours” are 3 hours in the office and 2 hours from home. We like the respect of not forcing more meetings as they tune productivity. Expect more home renos and people moving to take advantage of these options.

This is not just a scheduling exercise; we will be thoughtful about when we ask colleagues to be in the office together,” Ms. Fraser wrote to Citigroup’s 210,000 employees. “The pandemic has stretched our capacity for innovative thinking, for solving problems. It has opened doors to new ways of working and shown that we are able to adapt to and even flourish amid adversity.”

We wonder if suburbs will get further from cities as cycles change — Source: The Wall Street Journal.

The Bad 😬

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

1.No shit sherlock. A start-up has been accused of falsifying lab results from rapid fecal digital sampling. In a Theranos-like fraud, uBiome has been accused of testing malfeasance and money laundering. What is wrong when unethical capitalism meets unethical science? We need to make Frankenstein required reading in Uni. Bad doctors get caught. This of course is one big load of crap, and they can all eat what they sow. We are glad of the indictments. Smells like fraud to us — Source: Boing Boing.

2. This is definitely a no-go. A follow-on from issue #9 of the Wrap that looks at SPACs. As these enter the mainstream like other instruments like IPOs, they may become normalized. That doesn't mean we know that they are effective yet. What is missing in these vehicles is some regulation to protect retail investors and the economies. The sheer scale of them imposes a “too big to fail” mentality, but that’s not the case. Too much trust and money are being placed in too few hands. INSEAD report is skeptical of the purpose and throws shade on the SPACs.

Conventional wisdom, as INSEAD professors Vibha Gaba, Henrich Greve and I documented in a paper, is that when more people adopt a non-controversial practice, it will become increasingly widespread due to growing awareness and legitimacy. To understand how controversial practices propagate, Edward Zajac, Peggy Lee and I studied the boom-to-bust of reverse mergers. We found that, predictably, increasing adoption of RMs boosted awareness and, in turn, help spread the practice further.

We’ve got a bad feeling about this Scooby. — Source: INSEAD Knowledge Magazine

3.The Shipping News. Inquiring minds need to know, so of course, there is a website to check if the ship is still stuck in the Suez Canal. As of Saturday, the ship has been stuck for 4 days, 18 hours. It has cost us $46 billion, so far in delays. If you missed this check the meme of the week below. Link over here to see the current status and location.

We expect the misaligned Ever Given will have a Twitter account by now (ed. update Sunday March 28 and here it is- The Evergiven (7,800 followers) and Digger Twitters — Source: The Intertubes & CNBC

The Ugly 😱

Photo by Peter Olexa on Unsplash

1.All that glitters is not Goldman. Some of the smartest Ivy Leaguers in the world are campaigning for the 80 hour workweek and Saturdays off. This is ludicrous.

About a dozen first-year analysts say they are working more than 95 hours a week on average, sleeping just five hours a night and enduring workplace abuse. The majority of them say their mental health has deteriorated significantly since they started working at the investment bank.

In the land of the rich bankers, this makes owners less rich. Somehow we can’t feel sorry for anyone in this mess. All is fair in love, war and free-market economies? Fix this. #rethink — Source: CNN

2. Less is not better. The US sinks to a new low in rankings of the world’s democracies. The US has slipped 11 points in a decade — below Argentina and Mongolia — according to a new report by Freedom House, a democracy watchdog group. Things like racist attacks, police brutality, gerrymandering and a loss of trust in government institutions all have lead to the unusual drop in points. There is work to be done for the people and by the people we hope. — Source: The Guardian.

3. There is no more to say here. Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn share over 50% of user data with third-party firms, a study says. Terms of service. Wait. What? Source: The Hindu

Term of the Week: Keats Heuristic — the Rhyme as Reason, Behavioral Bias

The Keats Heuristic occurs because of a combination of the qualities of words that rhyme (we like the way they sound) and the fluency heuristic (it’s easy for our brains to process the information). So a stitch in time really does save nine. Sorry, Ben.

Two psychologists, Matthew McGlone and Jessica Tofighbakhsh based at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania in 1999 found that individuals evaluate rhyming statements as being more truthful than those that aren’t. . I know, you are thinking, “If the glove does not fit…” Source: — The Behaviours Agency

Mars taps into your snacking motivations with the Keats Heuristic

Meme of the Week —

Oh yes, that boat again. The poor ignominious MV Ever Given that ran aground in the Suez Canal blocking enormous tonnes of global trade. We have not seen this many memes about a boat since Boaty Mcboatface. If there’s one meme that you can trip on everywhere this past week…

Meme Credit: Twitter via Aljezeera

Viral Video of the Week - Volcanoes.

Feeling Hot Hot Hot.

Chart of the Week: War is Bad but Things are Getting Better.

Although there are brutal and serious wars in Yemen and Mexico and across the African continent. Things are getting better. Fatalities have halved in the last decade. Is it a peace dividend? Is it an aging population? Is it a vestige of the good parts of Globalism and Democracy? Is it just that the world is getting less hungry and richer at the same time. We do know this; it’s complicated.— Source: Wikipedia.

That’s the Wrap!

See you next week for Edition #11 !

The GSG Medium is The Message

Visit our Medium channel every Friday for a weekly wrap on the world’s biggest challenges and other fresh articles and points of view The Grey Swan Guild is sharing. Please drop by our Grey Swan Guild website ( for more publications and articles about how we make sense of the world ongoing and also the raft of possibilities to participate as a Sensemaker. Apply today.

This Week’s Grey Swan News Wrap Editor: Doyle Buehler, Rob Tyrie and Sean Moffitt are the core tri-tag team at the guild and this week’s news wrap co-editors with help from @sylvia, @ben and @agustin. Some of us will be on Clubhouse March 28th to discuss what we surfaced. Members & non-members please join us.

Grey Swan Guild — Making Sense of What’s Next

On April 16th, Grey Swan Guild is hosting The Day of the Swan — an all-day event focused on: our 1st year anniversary, a springboard for launch events in our second year, a platform for our members to shine and a forum for the greater community to scan through what we have been working on, thinking about and making sense of. Join us for the day and participate in advance with our LinkedIn group.

#NEW — And stay tuned for a new weekly column on our Medium Channel. We are experimenting with on Wednesdays: Humpdays. We will be going back to the Grey Swan Library and History Archives to do some memory-making about what our points of view were like last year and how views were either predicted or changed with new information.

Come join us:

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Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢

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