Crisis induced shifts
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - May 31, 2020 - 12:00am

As I browsed through the business articles and materials trying to find ideas on how a person or business can cope with the current situation, I came upon these two brilliant materials. One is from Tim Elmore and the other one from Mckinsey & Company's newsletters. I would like to share these with you.

Historical Examples of Societal Crisis-Induced Shifts: 1

• The Black Death, which killed 25 million to 30 million people in 14th-century Europe, is credited by some historians with ending feudalism and serfdom and ushering in the Enlightenment by shifting power to increasingly scarce labor resources. We can say without exaggeration that the plague shaped the path of European history.

• Consider also the impact of World War II on women’s participation in the workforce. With a large share of the working-age population deployed in the war effort, women were encouraged to fill jobs on the domestic front, through efforts to reduce social (and sometimes legal) barriers. After the war, the effects of these shifts persisted, driving an acceleration of female workforce participation.

• The 9/11 terrorist attacks similarly reshaped transportation and security policies worldwide. There was a collective shift in societal attitudes about the tradeoff between personal privacy and security. As a result, citizens accepted higher levels of screening and surveillance in the interests of collective security.

• Societal crises can also have lasting effects on consumption patterns. For example, the 2003 SARS outbreak in China changed attitudes toward shopping: because many people were afraid to go outside, they turned to online retail. Though the crisis was short-lived, many consumers continued to use e-commerce channels afterward, paving the way for the rise of Alibaba and other digital giants.

Tim Elmore shares this:

The Antonine Plague (165-180) 2 Many historians believe this epidemic was first brought to the Roman Empire by soldiers returning home after a war against Parthia. The epidemic contributed to a major shake-up of the established powers during that period:

It forced the end of the Pax Romana (the Roman peace), a period from 27 B.C. to A.D. 180 when Rome colonized and dominated much of the world. Afterward, instability grew throughout the Roman Empire, leading to civil wars and invasions by barbarian groups.

People began to reflect and prioritize personal and spiritual matters over materialism. Family and faith became increasingly popular after the plague occurred.

The Black Death (1346-1353) Mass graves were dug to bury the dead during this horrible plague, which traveled from Asia to Europe. Some historians believe it wiped out half of Europe’s population. The plague changed the course of Europe’s history and brought these benefits: With so many dead, labor became harder to find, bringing about better pay for workers and the end of Europe’s system of serfdom.

Studies suggest that surviving workers had better access to meat and higher-quality bread, and afterward lived longer lives.

The lack of cheap labor may also have contributed to technological innovation. With fewer workers, people had to get creative to complete the work.

The American Polio Epidemic (1916) Tim Elmore says: “My parents told me about polio, the deadly and disparaging disease that prevailed as they grew up.” Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted it at 39 years old. Polio had existed for a long time. But it can often take an outbreak before we get a breakthrough:

As Americans watched F.D.R., their president, battle this disease, it became top of mind for millions of citizens. As polio became an epidemic, it drove urgency for the discovery of a vaccine, which was finally created by Jonas Salk in 1954. Worldwide vaccination efforts now take place to reduce and eradicate the disease.

So, with all the negative outcomes we see from today’s coronavirus, what if we looked at it differently. And then he concludes his article by saying this:

Whenever I see a problem, I tell myself that I can get mad or I can get busy. These past epidemics may just show us how to get busy.

• Let the adversity weed out what’s wrong and clarify what’s important.

• Let the adversity catalyze wise decisions to improve conditions.

• Let the adversity create an urgency about solving your biggest problems.

There is almost always some good that can stem from adverse situations. But usually, it requires people to see the big picture, think long term, and take the high road.

Great lessons to learn. This crisis we are having is a forced, un-designed, unwilling condition that forges opportunities for us to make our life positively extraordinary in many ways.

(Connect with Francis Kong in Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM 'The Master's Touch', the classical music station.)


1 Sensing and Shaping the Post-COVID Era | BCG.

2 The Positive Outcomes of Outbreaks Through History ....

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