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Covid-19 – A Step Back in the Right Direction

When we waved the year 2019 goodbye after a series of odd and unfortunate events, a lot of hope transferred to 2020 in order to inject the much needed positive impact to kick start the turn of the decade.

Coincidentally, no one ever expected that 2020 would bring such an event; a calamity that even successful businesses and corporate entities with the most efficient risk management strategies would not be able to overcome.

In a matter of days, the Covid-19 virus had turned into a pandemic and was staying at home was once considered a flaw in the basic human social life, it has now become a present-day norm that will supposedly reduce the spread. Busy streets, highways, downtowns, restaurants, shopping centers all deserted in no time. It seems as if a ‘mini apocalypse’ we so often read in novels and see in movies & TV shows has engulfed the world.

Not so far into the past, the global startup economy had contributed approximately $3 Trillion, however now, with each passing day millions of dollars of loss are being inflicted on the economic value. No other incident in the modern era post World War 2, has wreaked havoc as much as the Covid-19 has. It has pushed people back into implementing a needs-based lifestyle (health, wellness and safety), where at one point the wants i.e. luxury goods, brands and a lavish lifestyle had become a priority.

The global ecosystem has taken a major hit, with industries closed, factories dormant, lockdowns and the talk of enhancing the “Global Village” once again pending as people are now focused on survival. Businesses have gone from doing well into rethinking their entire mode of operation and some have even been forced to initiate the ‘dreaded call’ for redundancies.

However, the real question we must ask is ‘How do we get out of this?’ The answer lies in the Lemonade Principle of the successful ‘Effectuation Theory of Entrepreneurship’ developed by Prof. Saras Sarasvathy.  The lemonade principle states that when an uncertain situation arises, we must embrace that surprise and remain flexible rather than tethered to the existing goals. It must be noted that the majority of the businesses operating in the world right now became so comfortable with the current ecosystem that even though on paper they may have been prepared for a global catastrophe, but in reality, they weren’t mentally and practically ready. When a major incident like the one we are facing occurs, it comes with its level of damage which one way or another will ensue. What we must do is to play our part in limiting it through ‘basic’ measures and take one step back. It has also become essential to look at our available resources and reevaluate our strategies because this situation will pass eventually, though it is uncertain when.

While big companies are busy reorganizing, Covid-19 has provided a big opportunity for startup businesses, who are just at the beginning of the ladder, to critically evaluate the goals they had implemented previously. They should now develop SMART action plans since they have experienced firsthand the damage a global catastrophe can cause. Sometimes, we as human beings are living life in the fast lane and forget to take a break and incidents like Covid-19 are a reality check that at certain points in time we have to put our foot down on the break and stop, look around, observe and redevelop our objectives and purpose in life.

The positive element that has risen from this mostly negative scenario is that, though the world has become isolated, people have come even closer together. After a long time, there seems to be a sense of collective purpose i.e. to fight and overcome Covid-19 by working as a team in our own humble capacities. It has provided us with a new opportunity to identify our shortfalls and to derive multiple short terms and long term solutions. As a global family, we were moving so fast that we started to forget what really is important for us. Now, in isolation, each country has a chance to constructively analyze the necessary options and resultant outcomes. With the rapid technological advancements, we started to ignore the ethics of sustainable development and resultantly put a hefty load on mother earth and its own very sustainable ecosystem, that there was bound to be retaliation. With current business and industrial activity down to a bare minimum, the environment has started to make a recovery, the same environment that is crucial to our survival but was starting to get destroyed due to our ignorance.

Additionally, it is important that we critically take a look at the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and start practical implementation on at least one other goal (in our humble capacities) in addition to SDG number 17 which is to develop partnerships. By taking into account the socio-economic environment of Pakistan, teamwork, and partnerships will enhance the country’s’ enabling environment and maximize outcomes while minimizing ‘rent-seeking’ attitudes.

It is high time that we utilize this phase to our maximum use, stop worrying but remain vigilant, and take a ‘step back’ in the right direction to develop solutions that will help us solve the real problems.

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