business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

It’s almost too hard a question to ponder these days: what comes next?

Even in the best and calmest times, it’s a question that puzzles us because things are always changing. However, in our current moment of social distancing, lockdowns, self-quarantines and more, the notion of what comes next boggles the mind.

Will people return to shopping as they had in the past? Frankly, who knows? Likewise, there is no way of knowing if a few weeks of cooking and eating at home will create any long term shifts in consumption patterns. I wouldn’t bet on it, but right now there’s no knowing anything.

Will this strange period (and it will end) launch e-commerce to unanticipated levels of success? Again, who knows? As I’ve written before, this test period of cocooning at home could be launching an epidemic of cabin fever that will have shoppers craving traditional experiences. Again I wouldn’t bet on it, but who knows?

On a more optimistic note, I’d like to believe we’ll show some continued warm feelings toward all the people who are making our lives as normal as possible. From front line supermarket worker to truck drivers, medical personal and first responders of all kinds, and even postal workers and trash haulers. Will the warm feelings last…again, who knows?  But I have hope.

What I do know is that probably no one wants to contemplate all of this right now. Right now, we are focused on the problems at hand and with good reason. Right now, it’s all about the basics but we know that someday soon (and it can’t come fast enough) things will return. And what then?

But here’s what I think we need to consider. There are ways of contemplating every current questions and convincing ourselves that the answer we most desire is certain to come true. That the social distancing period will lead to a complete revival of all that we wish would happen and magically transform the world into exactly the place we want.

Only that never works out.

As always we need to cling to the wisdom of Charles Darwin that the strongest, fastest or whatever is never assured of survival. Rather the winners are those who are most adaptable and fittest for whatever changes the world brings about. We cannot possibly know what comes next (or even tomorrow at this point) but it’s our ability to adapt, to change plans on the fly that will be the best path to success.

And to keep you entertained, one more movie reference to consider - from Argo, the movie dramatization of how the CIA freed a group of Americans trapped in Iran by creating a phony movie company.

When the CIA agents first presented the idea to their higher ups, they explained that there were no good options for the operation. In essence, the movie idea was “the best bad option.”  (See below.)

Often that’s a perfect description of our choices. Let’s hope we pick well.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@mnb.grocerywebsite.com.

His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.