It has been two months now after the havoc due to the virus. More than half of that, we are in lockdown state, in India. I was to travel to Boston middle of February 2020, just around when COVID-19 outbreak had happened, few hundred cases were around. There was word of caution in the air. I took a risk and did travel and managed to come back safely to India towards end of February, only to find that the spread was rampant. In a week’s time, I got into self-imposed lockdown, and followed a nation wide lockdown in India.
Like many of you out there, I was glued to TV, with me biting my nails, sitting on the edge, flipping between various news channels. But after a while, I said myself enough is enough, and put a stop to that madness, as it had started affecting me, seeing the situation getting worse and uncontrollable. The media is doing great job in general, I am sure, keeping us informed, warned, provide insights. No question on that.
It is amazing to see what this virus has done to all of us, globally. Well, I am not talking of stock market. That is different story, and it is certainly not amazing. I am talking about how we humans now interact. Some new behavioral etiquette has sprung up, such as social distancing, sneezing in one’s elbows, getting away from shake-hand to namaste, and many others. But for many, this enforced isolation is a nightmare, not able to cope up, hence raising demand on mental health care, more than any other times. For entrepreneurs and leaders, it is time to adapt to the new reality, manage the new VUCA(popular leadership term referring to Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world, solve new problems, and most importantly stay course on innovation. The current situation is best described by VUCA. The virus has brought in huge disruption in front of all us to face.
Needless to say, business is bleeding right now. Jobs are being lost, revenues are vanishing in thin air. But there are certainly new opportunities, new challenges to address. New business models, new business opportunities are also on the rise. I am sure those with entrepreneurial mind set among us, are working on making most of the opportunity, this crisis is bringing. I am keenly following mental health space, where there is a jump in venture capital funding in that area. This has been my area of interest since last 20 years. I am sure innovation in this area, and many other areas will happen very rapidly.
It is is anybody’s guess now that more and more things will happen online, even at more ferocious pace. Online meetings, online learning, cashless payment options(mobile wallets, not credit cards!) are obvious gainers. I also suspect virtual reality, augmented reality also will be on the rise. Who wouldn’t want to get that life like cinema experience, but in virtual world? Who wouldn’t want to go to beach, but in virtual world? Even experiences such as buying pair of glasses for your eyes will happen more online. I broke my expensive frame-less glasses today, only to order them online from Lenskart, as opticians are closed right now. I had preferred walking into optician’s shop instead of online option. This is similar situation to what was brought to us by demonetization in India couple of years back. It forced all of us to use alternatives, go cashless, though that brought inconvenience in the short term.
Same thing is happening to some of these alternatives in other areas. It is as if nature has enforced a growth hack on them! We are forced to use them. It is making them get even better. Anything that will remove in-person, remove need of touch and feel, will be done in alternative ways. The other parts of businesses will, of course, come back, but slowly and steadily, as for many things, there is no alternative, but to do things in-person, and need touch. The things which were seen impossible, are now happening. For example, it was impossible to have WFH implemented. There would be hundreds of reasons on the table discouraging that. But with just one blink, now many organizations are 100% WFH and are productive in most cases.
Anyways, summer is in its peak now in India. I hope this virus gets roasted off by the scorching Sun, and, we get back to our old ways, may be wiser, may be more conscious of mother nature, and more deep inside!