Published 09-April-2020

What good is the Corona Virus?

Fear and uncertainty are the norm. We can take that as read. It’s the base line.

That usually gives our reptilian brain 3 choices: fight, flight or paralysed.

However, the flight option is not on the table, which leaves just fight or paralysis.

If we choose paralysis we hunker down and wait for the issue to pass, surviving as best we can physically and mentally. We put life on hold until things return to normal and maybe we come out the other side alive. It is the nuclear option we expected until the wall came down - the one where a very few would be trying to out-last a nuclear winter in a bunker.

Luckily with COVID-19, whilst going outside isn’t free from risk and we can’t just go where we want to, it is an option. See, things always have an upside if you look hard enough!

The alternative to hunkering down is to fight. That doesn’t mean raging against the enforced changes. You can only ‘control the controllables’. Unless you want to ‘get dead’ or get other people dead you need to do what you are asked and stay the heck away from other people. Don’t put people at risk because you are driven by your own desires. Think, ‘you before me’ every time.

What fighting back means is finding ways to create a new life that makes the most of the changed circumstances. The real ‘winners’, individuals and companies alike, will be those that find ways to flourish.

Easy to say. However, there are multiple sources of trauma happening here. First the chronic trauma of the virus itself, the threat most feel to their lives and the lives of loved ones. Then there is the ‘Future shock’: sudden and rapid change in work, livelihoods and social life.

Lastly there is the loss of expected future. This latter trauma in my view will increase over time as peoples’ ‘hope’ deadlines (the Stockdale Paradox) for a return to normal are exceeded. It seems the closest applicable parallel is Foreshortened Future, and within it the experience of ‘Loss of meaningful Future’

"Where there is pervasive uncertainty, where others cease to be dependable, where the world is unsafe and one’s own abilities are in doubt, projects collapse. It is not just that the person lacks something that is presupposed by the possibility of a specific project. What is missing is something that the intelligibility of projects in general depends upon. One finds oneself in a world from which the possibility of meaningful, progressive, goal-directed activity is absent. Other kinds of concern are affected in other ways. For instance, care for certain other people may endure, but a pervasive sense of the world as unsafe and unpredictable renders it fragile and vulnerable. One inhabits a place that is inhospitable to human relationships."[1]

Some, will think this isn’t worth considering. Because of their hope deadlines, they will think that the crisis will have passed by the time they have re-engineered their lives or their business. These people are hoping that this will be over in a matter of weeks or months. So what’s the point? Things will soon be back to normal.

You may think this to be so and this is where you need to make a judgement call.

If you ‘Google’ ‘how long will the pandemic last?’ you will find that the consensus is 12-18 months to get a vaccine. Then add to that however long it takes to vaccinate 7 Billion people. Your future has very likely been moved.

If we are right, the victors will be those who get to grips with the new normal fastest and re-exert some control over their lives and future.

There is little downside to treat this as the new normal, unless you make a long term investment in a service or product that is only viable in a lockdown.

If you gear up for the conditions of now, if you have a business that operates under the restricted and adverse conditions we are experiencing, how much easier, more effective and more profitable will you be when things get easier? The smartest organisations will use what they learn now and apply it moving forward. They will be unbelievably resilient.

The Corona Virus isn’t, very sadly, just killing people, it is killing businesses. In the worst case scenario your business is in the equivalent of a coma. You need to decide if the business is actually brain dead & whether you should switch off the life support machine. Are you living on hope alone? If lockdown lasts for a protracted period, will it be able to operate in the new world on the other side?

If it can be relevant, then that is fantastic. If it can’t, now is the time to spend that time of enforced isolation developing a new business.

This fight back needs to be done in the right way.

No profiteering, taking advantage of people who are fearful and in need, exploiting availability of products or harming others by acting in self-interest...

...not unless you want to be in receipt of some bad publicity.

Fighting back means finding ways to innovate, evolve products and services, build brands and reputations by adapting to things people want and need during the pandemic. Get this right and it will provide a strong platform for rapid growth when the pandemic is over.

The next Unicorn businesses will be born during the Corona Virus.

Getting Started

No matter how big (or small) your organisation is, what you need to do is the same:


  1. To survive and thrive requires innovation. New ways of meeting needs. The speed and effectiveness of your innovation will be critical.
  2. You need to innovate everything. Nothing should be left unconsidered. No idea is too whacky; no existing practice is sacred.
  3. To do this you need to get everyone you can involved. I mean everyone. Not just from the top to the bottom of the organisation but reaching outside to friends, family, suppliers and customers. If you need a ready to go, tried, tested, inexpensive process that works at international scale in large organisations or at a small scale: we have one.

Help and be generous

  1. In this time of need and emotional distress you need to help people. Your employees, your clients, customers, your suppliers and even your competitors; and don’t forget their families! Yes, we are being commercial but we need to be genuinely compassionate.
  2. Helping people now is the right thing to do. There will be organisations and people that don’t. They may do well in the short term, but their brands and businesses will be permanently damaged.
  3. So your innovation needs to result in products and services delivered with generosity & compassion.

For the small this is a big opportunity. Small is an advantage. You can be flexible & agile. Big organisations have big problems and are usually very slow to change. You can run through the feet of the giants.

Advertise, promote and sell

  1. Most people’s target markets are sitting at home, many with their families. They aren’t stuck in meetings, or commuting. If still working they are in front of their computers. If not, they are home and at some point will be bored. So now is the time to get in front of them with your new product or service. But be very careful not to be a pain!
  2. If you have followed the first 2 points you will have a great story. Tell it. Get other people to tell it. Take time to tell it well and build it. Use some professionals to help you design it and tell it if you can. There are plenty of them available right now.

    We know a few good people and organisations, if you want names.

Drop an email or contact us anyway you prefer if you want more help and advice. We are going to be as generous as possible. We will do our best to help everyone within our means.

Good luck, stay well & look after each other!

Connected Intelligence - Connecting you to Smarter

- James Bryant

[1] What is a “sense of foreshortened future?” A phenomenological study of trauma, trust, and time
Matthew Ratcliffe, Mark Ruddell, Benedict Smith
Front Psychol. 2014;5: 1026. Pre-published online 2014 Aug 1. Published online 2014 Sep 17. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.0102