The coronavirus has caught everyone’s attention, and not in a good way. A lot of the stuff I’m reading lately falls somewhere between paranoia and panic. And given the reliability of the “news” we see in our social feeds, that’s not good for anybody.
But reliable, useful, trustworthy sources of information do exist, and one of them is our guest this week. She is Business Learning Institute thought leader Jennifer Elder, and she has compiled a list of questions that business leaders can use to help their organizations prepare for the potential impact of the coronavirus.
In this conversation, we cover:
- What you need to consider regarding your employees.
- Working from home.
- Being transparent with employees.
- The lessons we should take out of this.
Listen to our conversation here.
The Event 201 simulation
So this is interesting: Just a few months ago, the folks at Johns Hopkins, the World Economic Forum, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation brought public-health experts from around the world together in New York City for a simulation that they called Event 201. Specifically, they wanted to simulate a pandemic with potentially catastrophic global consequences in order to determine how governments and global institutions could best work together in response to such an event.
The illness at the center of this simulation was called CAPS, which stands for Coronavirus Associated Pulmonary Syndrome. It began in Brazilian pigs who then passed it to farmers. This was all done just two months before COVID-19 emerged in central China. Three months into this simulated pandemic, the hypothetical illness had sickened 30,000 people and killed 2,000. Just as an aside, about 3 months after COVID-19 emerged, the real numbers for our current coronavirus were about 104,000 cases and 3,500 deaths.
The simulated CAPS illness ended after 18 months and about 65 million deaths worldwide.
Adam Raymond reported on the simulation for New York Magazine. Here’s what he writes:
“In the weeks after the emergence of the coronavirus in Wuhan, event organizers were forced to answer questions about whether they predicted the current pandemic, and contend with a few conspiracy theories.
“The exercise was not a prediction, organizers insist. ‘We are not now predicting that the nCoV-2019 outbreak will kill 65 million people,’ the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said in a statement. ‘Although our tabletop exercise included a mock novel coronavirus, the inputs we used for modeling the potential impact of that fictional virus are not similar to nCoV-2019.’
“Rather than serving as a predictive tool, organizers say the simulation was more about identifying opportunities to improve the response to a potential pandemic. To that end, they produced seven recommendations ‘to diminish the potential impact and consequences of pandemics.’”
Now, we don’t get that deep into the coronavirus weeds in this week’s conversation. But we DO have a series of really practical questions that business leaders should be asking themselves about how they should be responding to the real-world COVID-19 situation, in regards to their employees, their operations, their finances, their customers and supply chains. And now is the best time to do it because things are likely to get worse before they get better.