Lockdown retro.

I liked, I wish, What if

Bom dia!

Most countries in Europe are now emerging from lockdown, waking up from a long coma.

I wanted to look back at this lockdown period using a frame we learnt at Techstars two years ago, and adopted ever since. It’s normally used to review projects once completed - instead of global pandemics still running 🤷🏻‍♀️ - but well, I thought I would give it a try. Unprecedented times, unprecedented frames.

Retros are meant to be a team effort. Gather the people who were involved in a project. Spend the first few minutes on your own, writing down one idea per sticky note, for each of the following : I liked - I wish - What if. Write as many ideas as you want. Gather. Then out loud, share what you’ve written and stick your post-it under one of these columns. So they stand here, visible. These, would be the learnings, your take-homes for future projects.

Like you maybe, the three of us were raised by a system that doesn’t really value trial-and-error (that’s the least I can tell). This is a tool to help overcome it.

So this is what we did, Kev, Max and I, looking back at this lockdown.


I liked

  • dedicating time to cook and test recipes, without worrying wether this particular one (burger buns) is time-consuming or if I failed it for the 4th time. This is how we learn, right?

  • appreciating food and being intentionally more cautious with waste. (I am not yet doing a compost because I don’t really have a garden and I am not comfy having worms hanging around => any tip welcome!)

  • starting to grow my own food, in a limited space (2m2). Well, it’s pretty much aromatics only as I speak - but zucchinis, tomatoes and salads are coming to life in the veranda! What a thrill 🌱It’s been more relaxing than any kind of meditation (except removing the wild cats poop every other day but that’s another story - about how I became a water-gun sniper).

  • realizing I live in a quiet neighborhood. Silence is probably the ultimate luxury, in times like these.

  • appreciating what you have, every day. A good health, food on the table, loved ones. How many times have we heard from elders that if they could go back in time, they’d spend more quality time with their loved ones, watch their kids grow. I have this chance and I am grateful for it.

  • more unplanned, spontaneous calls with family and friends, deep dive check-ins, trying to go beyond the News.

  • feeling no social fomo (*Fear Of Missing Out) since… nothing’s happening out there!

  • wandering in our neighborhood. Short walks? Let’s take the most of it! I realized how you tend to always take the same streets over and over, without actually watching. Heading down towards, instead of enjoying the way. Do you know every single cul-de-sac or abandoned house in a 200 meters perimeters from your house? I didn’t but I am getting better. And this makes me like my neighborhood even more!

  • a more empathetic communication (calls, emails, texts,…). Less noise, less busyness. When you write “hope you are well”, this time, you actually mean it.

  • that days feel longer. No commute, no travel. The daily logistics are back to basics and I feel lighter.

  • experimenting solidarity with our neighbors (sharing services, offering food,...), building a “we’re in this together” relationship with the kindergarten (kept paying half the tuition fees so they can keep paying employees).

  • the resourcefulness of entrepreneurs in the city. Hats off to the people who manage to reinvent themselves, such as this restaurant that now delivers fresh food. Mid March, the restaurant had to shut down. Few days later they started taking orders over the phone, based upon an excel spreadsheet with 15 references, a week later they had built a Shopify (online shop) and a month from then, they were delivering all around Lisbon, offering a huge selection of fresh, local products from the region and… can’t keep up with new orders.

  • having fewer temptations to buy, feeling less of a ‘consumer’.

  • facing my stuff every day, realizing I probably use 10% of it. Wanting to do something about it… and well, building myStvff, the three of us. Ultimately, kicking each other’s ass to get started!

Irrespective of whether we have faith in religion or not, it’s good to be more compassionate. It makes us happier as individuals with a positive influence on our families and the neighborhood where we live - Dalai Lama, on Twitter, May 19th.


I wish

  • I were locked down with friends: hanging out, working, watching a movie.

  • I had a better sports routine.

  • my video game systems were here with me, instead of stored at my in-laws.

  • online advertising didn’t exist.

  • racism wasn’t always the pointer finger of anything bad happening to society.

  • we could plan ahead our next family and friends reunions.

  • we could hug.

  • we could enjoy the ocean’s breathe more often (it’s so closed, yet hard to access).

  • we had not frenetically looked at the Covid “numbers” every night before going to bed.

  • we didn’t need a pandemic to step back and think.


What if (this is when the mind goes wild)

  • we do a two-month lockdown every year, to slow down a bit, as a society. Let’s take a break from the hamsters in their wheels, “always more”, “never enough”. A lockdown, but without the drama. You’d go out only when you need to. International, national, local level. This time would be used to re-focus on what you like to do. For once, no need to be productive. How does that sound? This is no breaking news: weren’t Lent, Ramadhan, Shabbat, Sundays… meant for this? Environmentally speaking, this would probably do good too.

  • a basic income was introduced, so that anyone could benefit from this ‘re-focus’ time. Not only the rich or lucky people.

  • we get rid off of non-essential and harming things or businesses. Cruising ship industry? Hmmm… Flying roundtrip for that party? Well…

    “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they COULD, they didn't stop to think if they SHOULD.” Dr Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park.

  • there were no more cars in our cities, but instead bike lanes (yes, in hilly Lisbon too!), pedestrian highways, and parks, yes please, parks, parks, parks! So that the next lockdown doesn’t rhyme with people getting crazy inside a tiny apartment. So that the next time we face such challenge, no matter your revenue or the size of your apartment, you’ll have the same opportunities to remain a sane human being. Rome, Vilnius, Paris, Milan, London, Singapore, Oakland,.. are heading this way and this is freaking exciting!

  • we’d rely more on the local level. How about relocating some essentials close to us? Heading towards a more balanced world between local and global.

  • abandoned lands were actually used by locals instead of rotting there, waiting for a real estate company to turn it into a cash-machine at all cost.

  • remote work would become the new norm for most people, so that we spend less time commuting, more time with friends & family. So that the holidays would be meant to rest, not to refurbish your bathroom or do your paperwork (unless you like it of course).

My take-homes after the pandemic: never stop being adaptable. To me, this is the #1 condition to be happy (and even thrive), especially through uncertainty.

Maybe this exercise will help us enter the future challenges of our society with less fear and more wisdom.


What if… you’d share your what if with us? 🤩

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Tadam 🎊

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Have a beautiful day 🙆🏻‍♀️ [ 👈 this is a hug]

Mathilde

Image created by Adam Niklewicz