This is a follow on to Will virus drive world recession? #ThansynThe human cost continues to grow while evidence suggests the epidemic may be slowing, but that’s not conclusive. What have we learned? 

The world is not prepared for major, unpredictable disasters. These include epidemics, nuclear accidents, major acts of war and terrorism, weather catastrophes, major geological events, particularly earthquakes, and massive fires as well as financial, social, or governmental collapses.

These disasters won’t happen again until they do. The current condition is almost always the “new normal.” People and other animals generally don’t change much. They don’t want to deviate from what they’ve been doing and how they’ve been thinking unless there’s a major forcing function, a rent in the firmament of perception. Denial follows the first conscious recognition. This can’t be happening, can it?

We’re well past that with this disaster, the Coronavirus epidemic of 2020. 

This isn’t the place for your predecessor’s disaster recovery plan.

The New Disaster Realities

There may be economic and structural problems that are making it harder to deal with the epidemic. I’m not talking about China. In the US, in particular, we are in a period where we continue to reduce the ties that bind between entities. Independent contractors (1099 employees) are more popular than ever. Internet platforms are not responsible for the goods others sell through them, or the content people post on them. Unless the current regulatory schemes change.

A lack of dependencies is good – and bad.

This reduction in dependencies makes new business models and business results possible. It also creates uncertainties for business. Just today, the New York Times reported[1] that Amazon 

Has contacted some of its third-party merchants, whose dog leashes, crayons and other products account for about 60 percent of its sales, to figure out how their flow of goods might be impeded. 

A collision

At the intersect between a popular new business model (being a platform) and an unanticipated disaster (the epidemic and its impact on life, work, and commerce in affected geographies) lie many unknowns.

But you don’t have to be an entirely new business model to run into trouble during a significant disaster. 

We’re working on disaster-related advice covering all of the following topics in the context of what we see today with the Coronavirus epidemic:

  • What about your communications infrastructure? Can it handle changes in utilization?
  • Do you have redundant communication pathways for workers, suppliers, and customers?
  • Remote Access/Remote Work Programs (IT VPN, mobile communications)
  • Can remote and virtual meeting technologies fill some of the vacuum?
  • Should you increase supply chain redundancy and resilience without dramatically impacting your bottom line?
  • Should you deliberately multisource transportation options?
  • How can you protect against a growth of bad actors in times of stress (e.g., increases in Ransomware attacks)
  • How far should you go to expand the product sales, delivery, and support contingencies you can handle? What are the limiting conditions where it all breaks down? 
  • What are your limits on divorcing work from specific physical locations, and how can you work around problems that such an approach creates?
  • What alternative sales channels (such as tele-sales and local partners) have you developed that can protect your employees from the risks of working in proximity to a disaster zone?
  • How can you backfill for missing personnel? What about document and system permission schemes and fallback responsibilities?
  • How far can your organization stretch – who backs up whom? How can you maximize flexibility?
  • Do you have plans for simplifying internal workflows when needed?
  • Do you have a plan in place to slip internal and external deadlines proactively?
  • What can you do to boost worker immunity, reduce worker stress, and protect them from follow-on impacts?
  • How will this affect financial operations (banking, payroll, payments)
  • How will you integrate your newfound disaster-related plans into your traditional onboarding, training, and development activities?

We’ll expand on this with new #Thansyn posts over the next few weeks. We’ll list new posts here, as they’re created.

Related articles (continuously updated)

Rely on this article to surface links to all related materials for easy access.

  [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/business/amazon-coronavirus-supplies.html