We’ve all seen the social media posts about people clearing the stores out of essential items – toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bread, milk… COVID-19 has spun our society into a panic overnight, for understandable reasons.
To say this that this very same panic isn’t also affecting business decisions would be naïve.
Alongside messages complaining about people over-purchasing are an abundance of messages conveying an urgency that businesses must innovate immediately to meet the changes happening in our economy.
The hidden message here is also couched in fear. Innovate now or you will miss out.
Now, let’s be clear. I’m not talking about businesses that are innovating to provide critical medical supplies. Or those who are modifying their supply chain to provide other desperately needed items. In fact, I’m not even arguing that it is wrong to choose to use this time to innovate in your business.
What I am taking issue with is messages that suggest that if you are doing anything other than high speed business innovation right now that you will be left in the dust.
The question I keep reflecting on is this: Is there a chance that we may be hiding our fear of the coronavirus by being extra productive?
I see some parallels between the panic purchasing of year long supplies of toilet paper and the panic driven productivity messages that seem to be continually popping up online. As far as I see it, they may just be flip sides of the same coin.
The panicked toilet paper purchasers are being criticized for their fear, whereas the productivity model is being highly applauded (or at least, by some) when, at least to my eyes, both behaviours may be equally driven by fear.
To be clear, I’m not taking specific issue here with people’s actions or decisions. I’m not saying that it is bad to be working, or even to be working very hard, right now. I simply think we need to be careful to not be insisting that productivity is the better way of coping.
My hope is simply that we may all try our best to leave space for people to cope with this crisis in ways that work for them.
And that we all take a moment to remember that when you take care of yourself, your businesses will do better.
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