The attached article from the Harvard Business Review discusses the implications of the pandemic for the global economy (see button for download, or link at the bottom).
The article was published one week ago.
• What do the markets tell? Are we entering a classic recession cycle or do we face a structural disruption?
Answer: recession, though perhaps also more than that – e.g. one that gives birth to a more dramatic and lasting change in consumer habits and values… Hard to tell right now.
• If recession, then what type of recession?
Answer: there are 3 types… “Real” (following a CAPEX boom), “Policy” (high rates choking off the economy), and “Financial crisis” (financial imbalances).
Of the different recession types, this one looks most like a “real” one, i.e. like a dramatic spending freeze. This is the more benign form. If so that’s the good news within the bad one.
• What’s the recovery path? “V”, “U” or “L”?
Answer: the “V”-optimistic view prevails, i.e. one that has dominated business thinking over the last decades, and which is that what goes down will go up once again (that is:… unless there is some permanent loss of output, globally). Supply chains will find new paths, people will have babies, need a haircut or a plumber… sooner or later, one way or the other.
More interesting is the conclusion at the end of the document… The whole magazine is addressed to business leaders, so what should those leaders do in relation to risks?
Here the answer sounds pretty much like “do what you think is best“.
So all in all it is more food for thoughts, rather than actual insight…
Here is the quote:
• Don’t become dependent on projections. Financial markets are currently reflecting great
uncertainty. A wide range of scenarios remain plausible and should be explored by companies.
• Don’t allow financial markets gyrations to cloud judgement about the business you lead.
• Focus on consumer confidence signals, trust your own instincts, and know how to leverage your company’s data in calibrating such insights. The impact will not be uniform, and the conclusions will be specific to your industry.
• Plan for the best and prepare for the worst trajectories. Keep in mind that a V-shaped recovery is the plausible scenario conceptually and empirically, but don’t let that insight make you complacent.
• Begin to look past the crisis. What micro or macroeconomic or legacy will Covid-19 have? What opportunities or challenges will arise?
• Consider how you will address the post-crisis world. Can you be part of faster adoption of new technologies, new processes, etc? Can you eventually find advantage in adversity for your company, clients and society?
My take is:
• Focus on your strength, challenge your vision, and stick to your guns by default.
• Take advantage of the business break to address structural and infrastructure challenges. In other words: enlarge your arsenal.
• Direct teams to complete tasks that require minimum horizontal interaction (i.e. as little as possible crowd, rather gather teams of specialists) – until a first sense of direction emerges from the markets.
• Revisit your cost structure & IT portfolio… Consider decentralized working models (more near shore?)