Here’s Your Best 5-Point Plan for Covid-19 Disruption
At a conference this past week at Henley Business School outside London, one of our team was told by a client that “COVID-19 is the ultimate black swan event”. We disagree completely. For over 15 years we have had “Global pandemic” on our list of potential disruptors, and we’ve been helping our clients prepare for disruptions like COVID-19.
COVID-19 really is looking like it is not going to be contained and will spread around the world infecting most of the population. You might be scrambling right now to work out how you should respond, so here is a 5-point plan to guide you and your team (and yourself and your family) to the best plan possible for now:
1. Know where to go for reliable, up-to-date information
We need to be listening to medical professionals for medical advice and information. We need to be listening to our country’s medical authorities for information on the public responses to Covid-19 in our regions. And we need to be listening to informed authorities on the implications for our lives, our workplaces and our communities.
We should not be gathering information from Facebook, from “friends of friends” WhatsApp messages, or from any news sources known to be sensationalist. More than ever, you should think carefully and verify information before you share it.
If you are a leader in a school, a public building, or a leader in the community, or at a business, make a decision about who will be the spokesperson for your organisation and let everyone know that there will be a centralised source of information and updates. These people must then be proactive in sharing updates, information and advice.
Here’s the UK’s NHS official Covid-19 page:
Here is a good summary of the symptoms of Covid-19 (compared to flu or allergies):
Here is a wonderful article put out by the World Economic Forum on keeping things in perspective:
2. Ensure you understand – and prepare for – the implications of a worst-case scenario (it is not as bad as you think, but worse than you can imagine, if you haven’t thought about it)
We do believe that based on the characteristics of COVID-19, it is very unlikely that we will be able to contain it. It will spread to every country and region in the world. For most people, this will just mean mild flu-like symptoms for a few days. For some it will mean quite bad illness, with the probable need to be hospitalised. And for a small percentage, it will be fatal. Sadly, the people are most at risk of this are the elderly, those who are already sick or immune-compromised, and the poor who may not have access to medical assistance. Even in the best-case scenarios, we will have hundreds of thousands of people hospitalised with many deaths. The worst case is almost too horrible to imagine.
Right now, it is correct that we use quarantines and reduced travel to attempt to slow down the spread of the disease. This is so that we give health care systems a chance to prepare, and give the scientists working around the clock to find a vaccine more time to do so. But we cannot stay locked down forever – probably just two months of this. After that, we will need to accept that containment has failed, and move to mitigation.
Our team has put together an 8-minute explainer of the worst-case scenario, done in a way to REDUCE panic and explain things clearly to people. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOl8YjhOc_w
(Note: we are not medical experts, but rather experts in disruption and the implications for our world, and especially the future of work. Make sure you get updated medical information when you need it, but also note that you have to consider implications well beyond emergency medical responses as well.)
3. Inform your people about the procedures they must follow, and how they will be supported
We must provide people with information about how the virus is spread, and the common-sense ways we can protect ourselves. You’ve heard this all by now, but we must stop shaking hands, wash hands regularly, not touch surfaces, etc. For those who are in vulnerable groups (the elderly, people with chest or heart issues, those who are iimmune-compromised etc), we should limit going into public spaces and keep our distance from others. We should all raise our immune systems, by eating better, taking vitamins, exercising, and sleeping well. These sound like simplistic suggestions, but they really are good to do.
We should then think about our clients, staff, family and friends. What will we do if someone in our circle contracts COVID-19? What is our response plan?
Businesses need to be thinking about staff policies, leave implications and setting up for remote working where possible, amongst many other issues. This might include deciding about cancelling events, managing supply chain disruption and adapting staff policies to deal with sickness, working from home and self-quarantine. There really is a lot to consider, and this must all be done NOW.
Above all, companies should communicate clearly. The CEO of Delta, the US airline, gave a masterclass in this over the weekend. He sent out a notice to all staff and customers that indicated Delta’s readiness to deal with the issue, highlighted their previous experience with SARS and other virus epidemics, and pointed people to a dedicated real-time website for updates. A good example to follow.
Our team’s latest video on what we should be doing in April and May, in particular, is available on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/QDhhMCk_TCo
4. Look after the vulnerable
Having considered disruptions to our lives and workplaces, we must never forget that this disease is going to be fatal for some people. If we ourselves or our loved ones are in a vulnerable group, we need to take extra precautions and consider carefully how we will respond if anyone in our circle gets COVID-19. Don’t wait – have those conversations today. Remember that just because you might be confident that you will not have too many bad effects from contracting COVID -19, doesn’t mean that others around you will be so lucky. We need to be considerate of others, now more than ever.
5. Remember to “never waste a crisis”
This is not a desperate attempt to find a thin silver lining on a very dark cloud, there are honestly two important considerations in the midst of this crisis.
The first is the opportunities that will arise. There will be opportunities for entrepreneurial minded people to take hold of. I don’t mean the disgusting actions that always come in a crisis, where opportunistic people do price gouging (I saw one distributor of face masks hike their price by over 1000%, for example) or take advantage of people. What I mean is that every crisis raises human needs, which will have to be fulfilled. Look for the opportunities to help and fill gaps – some of these will also be good business opportunities.
Secondly, this crisis is the first crisis of the 2020’s. It is not going to be the last. Our team at TomorrowToday has been predicting that the 2020’s is going to be the most disruptive decade any of us has experienced. So far, just a few months in, we’re not wrong. But it’s not like you can grit your teeth through this crisis, and then it will be plain sailing for the rest of the decade. As you’re dealing with this crisis, you also need to be self-consciously developing the ability to deal with all sorts of crises. Welcome to the 2020’s – are you having fun so far?
How TomorrowToday can help you
This is what our team at TomorrowToday does. We advise organisations and their leaders on the impact of disruption. Over ten years ago, we developed the TIDES Model of Disruptive change, which helps organisations both predict and prepare for disruptions.
In the very short term, we have put together a COVID-19 Rapid Response Intervention. For just $1,000, we will spend an hour with your leaders and your team on a conference call. We will do three things with you:
Provide the latest and most up-to-date information on COVID-19, and an “explainer” on everything you need to know about it.
Take you through our COVID-19 response checklist to help you ensure you’ve considered all the implications for your team – this includes giving you some of the really excellent initial case studies we already have from companies that have done a great job of responding so far; and
We will show you how to deal with disruption and help you start the process of already learning from this disruption.
Please reply to this email to request more information on this Rapid Response Intervention.
As the chaos we’re experiencing right now starts to die down, our team at TomorrowToday Consulting will be able to work with you to establish a much more robust preparedness for future disruptions that will come your way. We started TomorrowToday Consulting last year in anticipation of what our clients would need from us in the 2020’s – we are ready to do so now. Check out the Consulting team at https://www.tomorrowtoday.consulting
This is going to get worse before it gets better. Hope for the best. Plan for the worst. Deal with what happens.