Recent conversations with several attorneys prompted this post. The title many will recognize is from a 1931 book by English author Aldous Huxley, and I have to say, I’ve never read it. But, here we are in the 3rd quarter of 2021 and I have to say that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other factors, we may be at a stage in the world where changes are occurring, or have occurred, that have altered “normal” and changed it forever. My post “Quantifying Change” (https://magnusinsights.com/?p=2921) was a part of the story. Demographics have changed, as quantified by the 2020 Census. As mentioned in this previous post, the data will describe an America that is more “blended” than ever demographically. But that blending includes changes in psychographics – attitudes, values, and belief systems. When asking people to reach decisions, e.g., juries and verdicts, these changes must be considered. The changes did not happen overnight; Census data are on a 10 year cycle thus though the changes have happened between 2010 and 2020, these types of changes occur more gradually that one might think when the new Census data are released. But, then there is the pandemic. It brought a host of changes, to work cycles, to interpersonal communications, electronic communications, and more. Some companies really shined as helpful in a crisis – Amazon for example. Other companies adjusted well to remote working and others did not. Employee expectations of work environments are forever altered, along with, in some cases, their perception of corporate America. The politicization of the pandemic has impacted perceptions as well. General political polarization remains an issue as well as the Biden/Trump election cycle remains unsettled in the minds of a significant portion of the U.S. population (a factor discussed in our 2018 post The New World Order, (https://magnusinsights.com/2018/03/the-new-world-order/). A client told me recently that some trial consultants theorize that Trump voters now see themselves as victims (of voter fraud, etc.) such that they might be more sympathetic to accident victims than they once were, as conservatives. I think this theory remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that many parts of what was “normal” are in flux. Because of the uncertainty of these variables, it is perhaps more critical than ever to evaluate cases in a way that accounts for changed perspectives. As trial consultants, we know the value of focus groups, mock jury research, etc. We have always explained to potential clients that jury research reduces uncertainty (see also Reducing Uncertainty from 2016, (https://magnusinsights.com/2017/05/reducing-uncertainty/). But when uncertainty is elevated as it is now, finding out what people are thinking through the use of focus groups, surveys, and mock jury research is especially critical. Don’t ignore the seismic changes that we are all undergoing in real time these days. Attorneys, adjusters and anyone involved in litigation need to consider the new realities and how they impact jurors’ decisions.
As David and I have written before, there are some people (like us) who thrive on change and there are others who prefer the status quo and/or wish things were “like they used to be.” The latter types of people are, for the most part, boring to me. Change is part of human existence and, in order to survive in today’s increasingly complex world, one must be able to accept change and adapt to new things. This makes me think of Bob (my Bob, my beloved friend since grad. school). As readers of David’s and my posts already know, Bob is a surfer. Bob has been surfing since childhood, which at his/our age is a long time. I am not a surfer, but Bob has regaled me with stories of his surfing adventures for over 40 years, such that I know a little bit about the subject. It is my understanding, based on what Bob has told me, that no two waves are alike. This means that, even if one is an expert surfer, one must make an assessment of each approaching wave that is both accurate and fast. Making a mistake about a wave can result in several negative outcomes, including serious injury. Therefore, even though Bob, and other expert surfers, have surfed on many, many waves, they have to adapt and change their approach for each new wave that comes along. Imagine a surfer saying, “Well, I have always surfed this way, so I don’t need to pay attention to this wave I have never seen, or surfed before.” The same is true regardless of what one is doing in life. Things are changing; demographics are shifting from the majority being comprised of White Anglo Saxon Protestants; and technologies are advancing in ways we have never before experienced. Instead of sitting back, wistfully wishing for the days of rotary dial telephones; living in a community with people who look like we do; and in general, putting one’s head in the sand, it’s time to get ready for all of the new things change will bring to our lives. Surf’s up people!
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