The outbreak of Covid-19 has turned the world upside down; for the private sector, it has exposed the fragility of global supply chains and many companies' organizational structure. And while the outbreak has taken up significant amounts of organizational bandwidth over the past six months, the outbreak will (hopefully) one day be overcome – winners, losers, and 'undecided' organizations will surely emerge.
To manage and prepare for this post-coronavirus future, scenario planning can offer clarity on decision-making and help organizations strategize effectively. Two broad variables willdefine any recovery: the longevity of the virus outbreak itself (including possible furtherwaves), and the global mindset (i.e. how effectively governments and other organizations are able to collaborate and worth together to drive the pace of the global economy).
When matched against each other, the two variables offer us four possible scenarios: (1) Walled Gardens, (2) Digital Acceleration, (3) Back to Basics, and (4) Global Marketplace. Since the future will unfold somewhere within these scenarios, considering an organization's response within these parameters can drive future agility.
Key Q&A thoughts and reflections
- China will play an increasingly important role in the geopolitical landscape. Within the Chinese sphere, optimism remains high: the world will recover and China will come out on top.
- Across many dimensions, coronavirus will accelerate progress and ongoing trends. Digitalization, supply chain rethinking.
- The energy transition may be negatively affected by the coronavirus crisis; broadly speaking, only European organizations are actively talking of the 'green recovery'.
- The world recovery is lacking a 'unifying' figure in the same way the Black Lives Matter movement and the Energy Transition does; America is not convincingly filling the leadership space.
- We're only seeing the beginning of change in consumer behavior – how flexible are people remains to be seen in the months and years ahead.
(1) Digital acceleration scenario
In this scenario, the cash within an organization will be a key differentiating factor in determining resilience; an organization just has to do better than its competitors. Indeed, this scenario will depend largely on consumer behavior, which is hard to predict. In addition, this scenario would offer the perfect opportunity to remove bureaucratic obstacles and to drive a digital culture within the organization.
(2) Walled gardens scenario
Any global rejection of a collaborative spirit will result in widespread organizational changes. Perhaps most notably supply chains will need to become more localized, which equally creates business opportunities if organizations are able to deliver on trends toward more local produce. At an HR level, salespeople will need to be retrained and reskilled – learning and development opportunities will be key.
- How can we avoid a digital divide when this technology will surely impact both blue-collar and white-collar workers?
- Offering more autonomy or decision-making power to teams – even on a provisional basis – can be scary, but employees on the ground can be an asset for making tough calls.