Few people at the start of a promising 2020 could have imagined the U.S. anywhere close to a total societal lockdown three months later.
Imagining the unimaginable is becoming standard practice.
That doesn’t add clarity and certainty to anything. This is the new normal of coping with the short term when nobody dares to predict when the long term will begin again.
The housewares and tabletop business convened in early February at Ambiente in Frankfurt, Germany knowing China was in the throes of a mounting coronavirus crisis and that supply chain disruption was coming. But few considered then that Ambiente would be the industry’s last B2B gathering… until further notice.
It only adds to the perplexity of this situation that the China-originating supply chain is ramping up, only to be supplanted by other more serious concerns and priorities closer to home.
But in that resumption of goods flowing from Chinese factories, even if not yet at full capacity, is a sign that life and business by their very nature are conditioned to move forward, even if, tragically, there are casualties along the way.
Wait-and-see apprehension is an understandable reaction to any situation in a state of alarming flux. Yet this is a moment for businesses to do everything within their fiscal, operational and compassionate responsibilities to resist strategic paralysis, which can lead to tactical atrophy.
Just as it is necessary to buffer a business and its people to withstand a prolonged crisis, it is no less vital to prep an organization for quick, nimble, intelligent response when the crisis clears.
Unexpected professional hazards lurk around every corner. For example, just when housewares sellers figured e-commerce was a safe haven if consumers were shut in and stores were temporarily closed, Amazon, with proper intention, suspended shipment creation until April 5 on all products other than household staples and medical supplies. Other leading retailers followed suit.
It might be a temporary hit, but it’s another hit nonetheless when one more hit can seem unbearable.
Strict social distancing guidelines and orders have restricted daily routines across the U.S. Let’s hope such unprecedented, extreme measures set society on a path to a safer and healthier new normal.
It is natural to focus on the short term and how to survive a crisis that still seems so hard to imagine. Try not to let it suppress the will to move forward, to be as ready as possible for a long term that, one day, will begin again. For business. For life.