When I teach kids about business strategy perhaps one of the most relevant and interesting topics I can discuss is the Gartner Hype Cycle. For better or for worse, technology dominates almost all aspects of our lives. So it's a kind of amazing way to interpret the changes wrought by technological innovation. Since Moore's Law oversees all technology, the cycles are rather short - about 18-24 months. So what you hear about as the future today is either coming along soon or destined to fade away into the dustbins of history. Remember Google Glass or Oculus? Those were innovative pieces of equipment that were supposed to revolutionize how we live. Only they didn't...
The stages of Gartner's "hype cycle" are, in short,
- Trough of disillusionment
- Slope of Enlightenment
- Plateau of productivity
If we flip that on its head and change the first 3 stages to better fit the coronavirus, we get something like:
- Peak dread
- Top of mind-bending alternate reality
- Some weird backwards approximation of the Slope of Enlightenment, and the
- Plateau of Semi-Productivity
Some countries, we hope, are at least at the nadir of their belief in unicorns and fairies like "V-shaped recovery," "herd immunity," and "miracle cures."
Other countries, like China and Korea, are in that weird negative slope of enlightenment trying to figure out what in the heck this New Normal is going to look like.
Because, y'all, I'm tellin' ya, it gone look like dis for awhile!
The cafeteria at Lenovo's factory has partitions with the slogans: 1. Wash your hands, health for everyone. 2. Finish your lunch, leave quickly. 3. Don’t chat, finish your food quickly.
People are leaving Wuhan and trying to restore some semblance of a regular life. But there are far fewer jobs and what's available for work just isn't the same.
That, I fear, is pretty much what other countries are going to face as they remove lockdown measures. Remember that China waited for two weeks of zero cases before they even considered letting people return to the New Normal. COVID-19 is still raging in a lot of places that are opening up. I'm not saying they shouldn't open up. I'm just sayin' it gone be weird!
Some people simply just won't leave the house. We all have friends like that. They're right to be afraid of getting infected. Even in China we're operating at about 50-60% capacity. Here was my commute on Friday morning:
Normally this subway car would be packed to the gills with people on a weekday morning. And sure, it's getting there little by little. I'm heading in on Mondays and Fridays these days and on Monday, it was a little less packed than it was on Friday. Next week, most likely a few more people will pile in. But I mean, we've kind of reached a point where You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do. If you're a a part of the 40% of households in the US making under $40k that lost their jobs last month, then definitely that time has come. Coronavirus be damned! Gotta get dat money. I mean, what else can you do?
In the Bloomberg article where I got that Lenovo picture from, they quote a young marketer that provides some sage advice:
“There’s nothing to do but move on. We worked nonstop for years, chasing every opportunity. Everyone I know has one goal for 2020. It’s to survive.”
I don't know about you, but I'ma fuckin' survive.