business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

Uncertainty seems to be the way of things these days even when we move beyond the immediate questions of how much longer these lockdowns will last and whether a vaccine or other important medications are on the horizon.

We all are focused on the same thing:  what happens after all of this? It goes well beyond whether handshaking, high fives and hugs are a thing of the past.

One article I read was about the movie industry (a topic near and dear to us at MNB). The industry has long thrived financially on summer blockbusters, a scenario that is incredibly unlikely this year. Already the movie industry is wondering what happens to the many film festivals that serve as a testing ground for award-ready movies, not to mention what happens to all those awards themselves.

But far more substantially, the industry is wondering if audiences will return to theaters any time soon or if people are finding the comfort of at home viewing will outweigh the communal experience of a crowded theater.

Similar questions are being raised about sports and whether fans will go flocking back to massive arenas. That is, when and if we are able to go back.

Even the election systems used globally will return or will people question why voting in person is necessary in a time of advanced technology that permits such a range of activity from home.

Retail certainly isn’t immune in any regard to what-if questions. If the past weeks have shown anything it’s that we clearly face questions on supply chains, product variety, and nearly every part of the shopping experience finishing at the checkout. Surely you have noticed the countless articles talking about the rising popularity of touchless pay systems.

And to Kevin’s credit (not that I am required to credit him for anything), doesn’t frictionless shopping a la Amazon Go suddenly look like a far more powerful competitive advantage?  (I think Kevin was on that issue early.)

For good reason, Kevin also is fond of quoting the wisdom of Jack Welch, late of General Electric, who always warned companies of any time change outside the company is moving faster than inside. Suddenly, the change outside is at light speed and almost none of us are keeping up.

In the middle of a storm like this, it’s near impossible to divert any of our attention to thinking about what ifs or contemplating how to speed up any plan of continuous improvement. But somehow, that’s exactly what we must do. If anything is certain it is that someday soon, lockdowns will end, and life will begin again.

Only we won’t be going back to normal because that normal will be a memory. To quote Elsa from Frozen 2, we’re going into the unknown … and I don’t think we’ll be singing.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at

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.