Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Economy Growth 8

Revisit scenarios and course correct

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, many businesses have started their journey to recovery. But the situation is very different in some economies. As businesses have begun to reopen, the landscape has changed. Societal and political responses are trending negatively as the pandemic continues to peak – or in some areas – return.

Where they can, organizations are reinventing themselves as they reopen, taking “no regret” actions that will help them emerge stronger: becoming more digital, data-driven and in the cloud; making their operations more agile and their cost structures more variable, and delivering greater experiences for employees and customers.

Amid renewed uncertainty about the pandemic, however, assumptions companies previously used to shape scenarios and set their strategic course are now in question. Leaders are re-evaluating how the pandemic’s progress, strength or recurrence in different geographic markets impacts their recovery strategies. This means adjusting those assumptions, re-evaluating all scenarios, and strengthening their capability to predict and respond accordingly.

Now, companies must take their bearings and course correct on a continual basis against a set of potential cross-currents impeding their journey.

Four potential scenarios for the evolution of the crisis

In March, many companies used scenarios to set their strategic course. These strategic courses required assumptions to be made, which underpinned decision-making.



  • In
  • Cyclical Outbreaks, we assumed multiple outbreaks due to waning adherence to containment measures, resulting in the reinstitution of lockdowns and a W-shaped recovery.
  • In Rapid Remission, we assumed effective government measures would contain the outbreak with cases subsequently kept close to zero, while also leading to a V-shaped recovery.
  • And in Prolonged Wave, we assumed measures would be ineffective at suppressing the outbreak and reviving the economy, with an L-shaped recovery ensuing.
  • In Flattened Curve, we assumed longer periods of lockdown, with growth taking longer to resume resulting in a U-shaped recovery.

Three critical cross-currents are affecting companies’ COVID-19 reopening and reinvention strategies

  • A material shift in people’s attitudes

The removal of strict containment measures signals a shift from policy to choice. This creates challenges for companies trying to implement people-centric strategies and responding to constant fluctuations in customers’ and employees’ attitudes.

  • An acceleration in regional divergence, and a rapidly growing risk of disorder

Countries, regions and even cities are increasingly being driven down different paths, with signs of all scenarios emerging. Multinationals face different regulatory regimes and challenges across their markets.

While countries have the capabilities to suppress the outbreak, the will of policymakers and the public is waning. So, where companies had assumed a relatively benign base case scenario, the risk of worst-case scenarios is rising.

  • A dramatic shift in fiscal stimulus

Policymakers are looking to the future, removing short-term fiscal support in favor of long-term stimulus. While posing risks, this creates opportunities for companies to support the rebuild.

Commit to continuous course correction

The three cross-currents we identified require three agile course corrections:



Course correct, again and again

The pandemic has yet to run its course and the economic outlook remains unpredictable. All organizations are faced with this uncertainty as they reshape operations to meet market demand. As the scenarios change, those who decided to accelerate their digital transformation—embracing cloud, AI, analytics, flexible IT infrastructure, and intelligent operations—will be foundationally ready to lead the charge with insight and agility.​

As we journey toward recovery, supporting the human needs of employees and customers must remain top priority. This focus on people—in tandem with an ability to iterate and adjust the direction forward—will be of utmost importance in the months ahead. Success on this journey will come to those who outmaneuver uncertainty, continuously. More than ever, companies who course correct again and again, will find their competitive advantage determined by their ability to predict and prepare, sense and respond. Read more

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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