The new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 leading to COVID-19 disease has led to a terrible pandemic. Most organisations are dealing with this pandemic assuming that this crisis will go away in less than three months and that afterward society will go back to normal (bottom left green scenario). The immediate strategy is to delay activities and to make sure the organisation can bridge this period, mostly by delaying or reducing activities. Small adjustments are made, like working from home, but all based on the assumption that the crisis will soon be over. However, what if this crisis needs more than just a few months to pass us by? And what if the post-corona world will be changed forever?
First the bad news. A vaccine might take more than a year to be developed, produced and administered on a large scale. Also developing herd immunity will take much longer than 3 months if we want to flatten the curve to stay below critical IC capacity. So, a scenario that considers the crisis to last for longer than 3 months is plausible. In such a scenario, not every organization and perhaps whole economic sectors will survive. Our political and financial systems will be stretched to their limits (bottom right red scenario). Hence, planning to bridge this crisis is essential, yet it is not enough. Being able to downscale, reduce costs and secure funding to survive for the short to mid-term is one thing, starting to think about the way you can create value for your clients in the long term is the next.
The “good” news is that, according to expert scientists around the world, we can assume the crisis to be over in maximum two years. A vaccine will have been developed by that time or herd immunity reached. Hopefully even sooner. Perhaps summer slows down the virus in the Northern Hemisphere and countries all over the world can learn from successful interventions by other countries. There will be a post-corona time eventually. Individual suffering will be huge, but as a population, approximately 99% will survive. But will society then simply go back to normal or will the entire system change?
Whether the corona crisis will take a long or relatively short period of time, society is adapting to the new situation. Governments will have learned the need for swift and bold action. Employees will be used to teleworking. Students and teachers will experience the benefits of distance learning. And society as a whole will learn to appreciate the value of a well-equipped and high performing health care system. Some will even re-evaluate their priorities in life in general. The longer the crisis will last, the greater the probability that new behavior will last and that value systems will be changed structurally (the top right blue scenario). For instance, in this scenario will we see a lasting change in governance structures and taxation. Organizations will need to transform to this new situation, not only to survive, but to prosper in a changed world. If we assume that some changes following from the corona crisis are here to stay, why not try to adapt or transform more rapidly?