It’s almost 2021! Where are we heading?

INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry J. Schumacher (The Freeman) - December 4, 2020 - 12:00am

In 2020 we were suffering from two crises, the COVID19’s very contagious influenza infection and the hype and to some extend the overreactions manifested largely in overly bureaucratic restrictions that undermined the revival of business.

I am sick and tired of the negative news being thrown at us without silver linings made visible and being implemented.Of course, news about the vaccines potentially heading our way are plenty. But let’s be realistic: it will take quite some time before the vaccines are approved, arrive and the infrastructure to distribute and apply them effectively is in place.

While we continue to read all the vaccine news, we have to decide which sectors in the Philippine economy merit prioritizing in reopening. Are we really moving to provide those sectors with what is needed to start operations and employ people? I don’t see it. And I am not talking about handing out cash!!!

Let’s agree that in 2021 we will stop looking at all the negative news and start focusing on the more positive news that is available also but is overwhelmed by negatives.

We are all aware that we have no choice but to re-evaluate our company’s purpose, whether we own it, whether we are on C-level or whether – as employees -  we just want the organization to come stronger out of the economic dilemma we are facing at the moment.

Given the New Tomorrow, I believe we have no choice but to design an innovation strategy for 2021 that takes sustainability, social impact, and integrity into account (remember my article about vaccines against corruption?).

When judging social responsibility, we need to acknowledge the difference between corporations that simply participate in philanthropy, versus those that are driven by a clear mission to innovate for good and lead by example. Of course, I don’t want to discourage corporate giving which is imperative for the survival of many incredibly impactful NGOs. For me, it’s more important to consider how an organization can do good with the products and services that are created and sold, bearing: desirability (human), viability (business), feasibility (technology), and integrity (impact) in mind.

While we are going to do this now, there is still the question: When in 2021 will things return to normal?

The answer is simple, if not exactly satisfying: when enough of the population — possibly 60 or 80 percent of people — is resistant to COVID-19 to stifle the disease’s spread from person to person.

There are two realistic paths to achieving this “population-level immunity.” One is the development of vaccines and it is good to see that a number of international companies are getting there, from Pfizer-BioNTech to Moderna, from AstraZeneca to Johnson&Johnson. The other is for the disease to work its way through the population, with smart approaches to testing and contact tracing.

Projecting when each facet of daily life will be restored would be easier if public-health authorities had a well-informed view of who is infected, who has recovered and become immune, and who is still susceptible. This is the information that would emerge from widespread testing, which the Philippines and many other countriesare still behind on deploying.

With that kind of new and reliable information, it might be possible to isolate contagious or more vulnerable people, while a large portion of the population returns to something resembling normal life. We can all accept fewer tables in a restaurant, for instance, or a smaller number of people at a bar. Social distancing is not that bad.

In conclusion, let’s get ready to take advantage of opportunities in 2021 rather than seeing problems only.I am interested in your feedback; contact me at hjschumacher59@eitsc.com

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