” COVID-19 – A Scenario Planning Exercise ” – April 10, 2020.
Lifting the lockdown and steps to promote the economic growth are the twin challenges facing the Government immediately when on April 15 the lockdown period comes to an end. Peace to people and confidence to businesses constitute the twin requirements for the nation to move forward. The decision along with the suggestion that the PM will spell out within a couple of days or so holds the power to cast a spell on us, citizens. Everyone is expecting an interesting address influencing the spirit and energy of people. Businesses are increasingly concerned about keeping their heads above water in these troubled times.
As a layman, relying upon commonsense, I proceed here to present a brief, skeletal framework of a technique used to make decisions on these issues.
In business, it is common for managers to make a forecasting analysis/experiment to make decisions on what steps to make in such instances. A related version of the technique called, “Scenario Planning” will help better the business leaders in the present circumstances – post COVID-19 period. While forecasting is made for longer periods of months or years, ‘Scenario Planning’ can prove more useful for shorter periods of, say, 15 days, 30 days, 45 days … … The advantage that it holds is that it is real time and short time. It is simple with less business lexicon with potential to get rid of chaos and confusion in the minds of people or employees in industry. It is usually hailed as the elixir that can guide the leaders’ decision making abilities amidst uncertainties like what is being experienced now. Capacity to create a clear path forward for all economic activities is its core strength.
Brief Description of Scenario Planning :
Three Scenarios are created for COVID-19 analysis work. Each scenario will consider the following two aspects : (a) Public Health Actions where the aim is to strike a balance between health & safety and opening up of the economy; and (b) Growth of Economy where the aim is to protect people and control spread of the virus/disease.
Scenario I : Figure below represents the elements of this scenario :
Where the cases inspected and cases covered are equal and the death toll is stabilized. Social Distancing, Testing, and Contact Tracing are the three precautionary measures adopted as Public Health Actions for safety. In this scenario there will be strict social distancing measures, an increase in testing, and an accelerated contact tracing. There will be a complete lockdown with only essential services operating and strengthening of public health infrastructure with hospital beds, testing kits,ventilators, gloves, masks, aprons and the like.
Scenario II : Figure below represents the elements of this scenario :
Where the cases infected decline by 50% and the death toll comes down. Precautionary measures – social distancing is maintained ; testing done at random ; and contact tracing is continued where needed. Lockdown can be lifted totally where infected cases are nil. Essential services, schools, and colleges will remain open while ensuring minimum transport ; and public infrastructure in terms of hospital/patients needs will be kept ready.
Scenario III : Figure below represents the elements of this scenario :
Where the cases infected decline by 90 to 100 % with the death toll almost nil. Precautionary measures – social distancing will become voluntary while permitting people engagement with some restrictions ; testing to be carried out only where symptoms sound an alarm ; and contact tracing will be resorted to when new cases emerge. Lockdown will be lifted in all places where infection is nil ; all services and functions will resume with fresh enthusiasm ; public infrastructure in terms of hospital beds/patients needs will be kept at optimal levels.
The aim here is to get the Economy function at the original level (that before the outbreak) ; reduce business debts ; mitigate risks to business ; and devising strategies to pull the necessary strings to keep businesses on track.
Business leaders need to focus on (a) building accountability for future instances ; and (b) communicate to employees and people periodically with facts on their courses of actions.
Conclusion : The above exercise with available data will meet the needs of managers – be they in business or public health system – to make key decisions regarding containment/control and effective scheduling of preventive actions in a way any likely disruption in terms of people’s social activities and business agility are tackled.
“Dieu avec nous”
Friday, April 10, 2020 – 1.29 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” You start making the same decision of cautious optimism in a crisis each time, it gets acknowledged.”