We seem to be getting a lot of mixed messages depending on which politician you listen too about how long this pandemic is going to last. Some are saying in a couple of weeks this will all be over and we can continue as normal while most others are saying, don’t expect this to end this year. I for one believe this is going to be a long term thing and it’s going to change our world forever. Here’s why…
What we’re doing with social distancing and self-isolation right now is a short term measure to ensure we don’t overload our health systems. Even if we do manage to flatten the curve if we start ramping up normalcy again it will only be a matter of time before we head back up the curve and need to take measures to flatten it again. I suspect the curve is going to look like the damped sine wave until 80% of the population has been infected (required for herd immunity) or until vaccination is available and widely distributed (12-18 months).
Some indication that this is not a short term thing is the fact that the Canadian federal government was looking to put in place a bill that allows them to spend and tax freely in response to the covid virus until December 2021 (yes, that’s almost 2 years out). Now, the opposition will never let this bill pass but it tells me that the top of our government can see that this won’t be a quick fix. Australia is saying its borders will likely be closed for six months.
Even if, by some miracle, the pandemic ends in 3 months, the long term effects on an already fragile economy could last for years to come unless we start acting now.
What’s the Economic Impact
Someone told me a good analogy of what many organizations are doing right now. They are looking down at their feet just taking one step at a time with no view of the horizon. If your organizations current strategy is to hunker down and just look at small steps to keep your organization running in the short term, I think it will hurt you in the long run. Organizations that try to just wait this out will find that they are soon running out of resources and they will not survive. The ones that do manage to survive may find that while they were hunkering down a startup or more enlightened organization wasn’t and by the time they come out of their cave their industry will be changed forever and they’ll no longer be relevant.
This is something we should have been doing anyways as our organizations and institutions were already showing cracks. Our current business models were built on strategies that are decades old and we were seeing global players quickly disappearing into obscurity even before this pandemic. Climate change, massive technology breakthroughs, the electrification and digitization of everything was already impacting our organizations but many of our leaders don’t have the knowledge or know how to make the kind of shift required in modern organizations. Here in Alberta, our long running source of economic prosperity was already on a decline (the energy industry) yet a vast majority of our population and institutions were still focusing most of our new development in the oil and gas sector (at least in Alberta).
What our new normal needs to be
Until the pandemic is controlled, we will all need to change how we wash our hands, cover our coughs, greet others and how close we come to others. We are rethinking the need for meetings and conferences. We are rethinking the need broadband for all as a public utility like mail or water. And most importantly, we should be rethinking how we operate our businesses and even our business models. I’m not talking about digital transformation, it’s too late for that. I’m talking about organizational transformation.
But…how are we supposed to transform during this massive disruption?
First of all, get some help. I’m not saying this just because that’s what we do (help organizations transform) but because of my earlier statement about the fact that most of our current leaders lack the knowledge and tools to shift an organization into an exponential organization in the best of times. Right now, during this massive disruption it’s even worse as many leaders are purely focused on operating the business how it used to operate even though it’s being massively disrupted. It’s not their fault, it’s actually part of human nature to think linearly but that just won’t work anymore. In order to shift mindsets to think exponentially you need a whole new set of tools and a whole new paradigm for how your organization works. That’s not something most organizations can do alone.
We are part of an open global community of exponential organization consultants and coaches called OpenExo. This community was developed based on Salim Ismail’s Exponential Organizations and Exponential Transformation research on many of the top global organizations that have surprised and disrupted industries across the globe over the last handful of years. How did AirBnB take over the hotel industry without ever purchasing a single building, how did Uber become the largest taxi service without ever purchasing a car. Through the Exponential Organization model, we can help you shift your mindset, shift your organization and shift your business model to create new opportunities in this new world.
This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty. It’s also a moment in time when organizations need to start thinking about their future in the new world of constant disruption.
Finally, we are working with the OpenExO community to hold a global virtual summit on April 14-16, 2020 that is going to be discussing what this new world is going to look like. Our world has changed forever and this summit (being touted as the Bretton Woods summit of the 21st century) will help define new institutional models that will impact how the world runs. This will be a preview into the new world and will open your mindset to new possibilities.