There is a lot of bad news out there. Actually, as reported in the Harvard Business Review, 94% of stories by mainstream media are negative. Interestingly enough, that figure was from 2017, at a point in history when things were going well for the country and the world. The current pandemic is a two-edged sword for business; dealing with the present business fallout and how to face the uncertainty of the future. Here are a few economic recovery scenarios and some suggestions on how to look to the future with hope.
Businesses need to see their way out of the current situation. ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’, is what Benjamin Franklin once said. That same saying applies to looking ahead. In light of recent events, anticipating future events, then pivoting your business to become more diverse in the future, could help it avoid a harsh downturn, when the next unexpected event comes along.
The time might be right for your company to develop a new plan. Business managers know and understand that one thing is constant, and that one thing is change. What works well for a business yesterday, might not work so well for it today. But having been through the cyclical events of business growth and decline, many businesses come back even stronger after the decline cycle. They have faced the unknown before and seized upon the opportunities that are created when a new dynamic exists in the marketplace.
In March, The Conference Board published three recovery scenarios that might be plausible. They provide potential frameworks for assisting you in planning and provide some perspectives for the future. They are based upon the point in time when the number of COVID-19 virus cases peak in the United States overall, not by state.
The first scenario is a “May reboot, which is achievable if new U.S. coronaviruses peak by mid-April, enabling widespread economic activity to resume in May.” Unfortunately, according to worldometers.info, a tracking application for COVID-19, the number of cases in the U.S. has not peaked as of April 27, 2020.
The second scenario called the “summertime V-shape, would likely occur if new U.S. coronavirus cases peak in May, leading to an economic restart by July.”
The third scenario labelled a “Fall recovery, assumes that the U.S. successfully flattens the curve, controlling the rise in new coronavirus cases and easing the strain on the country’s health care system…..(but, timing-wise) wouldn’t be feasible until September.”
The Conference Board report indicated one of the latter two scenarios were more likely. Being aware of the scenarios does not help your business survive, but it certainly could bring some clarity in an otherwise very murky time line.
Having set the stage with some future scenarios, the next step is how your business can go about finding a way out. Nathan Furr, in a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, made three observations to help you see your way out of uncertainty:
-Consider all the alternatives.
Furr states “we may become so focused on the immediate situation that we overlook the broader possibilities.” Take a step back and try to gain a broader perspective. Try not to be so focused on solving the problem that you cannot see the proverbial ‘forest through the trees’.
-Realize many possibilities exist, not just “binary outcomes” as Furr calls them.
“During times of unproductive uncertainty, we often get stuck imagining extreme either/or outcomes.” As a business, you need to realize there are usually more than just two possible outcomes; on/off, yes/no, or success/failure. Outcomes are not necessarily black and white, there is a potential for a whole lot of gray. Each possibility has a probability of success. Choose one with the greatest chance of success.
-Alternatives, or ways out of your dilemma always exist. Furr ends his article with a stirring quote by Victor Frankl, a survivor of the Holocaust: “Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms— to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Choose a positive attitude.
As former radio personality Paul Harvey said, “In times like these, it is good to remember, there have always been times like these.” There is always hope and a way out of your circumstances. You just need to be determined to find them.