Coronavirus, Crisis? What Crisis?

Crisis, What Crisis?

As a specialist in chaos, uncertainty, crises, and resilience, I have read, reflected, consulted, talked a lot about the situation following the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

I already shared my vision and insights with my family, extended family, and clients, and I decided to share with you my vision of the current situation as well as some practical advice.

Let’s go!

The Basics

In my talks, I used to take the image of the railroad for the past world and navigation at sea for today’s world, chaotic and uncertain. So a crisis is a bit like navigation… in the middle of a storm!

So before seeing how to analyze the current crisis and how to prepare for it, we must first check that everything is in order on the boat… and in the head of the skipper!

  1. Be clear with your vision, your dream (the strange attractor in chaos theories). It is in the storm that it is essential to be clear on where we want to go and on our values. Reread your dreams if you have already written them down. Update them. Share them with your loved ones and/or colleagues if appropriate.
    Being clear about your dreams and values will help you make the right decisions in chaos.
    And if you are not clear about your dreams, immediately stop reading this email, go for a walk in nature and ask yourself the question “where do I want to be in a year? In ten years? What do I want to have achieved?” And no stress, if you don’t have an answer today, try again tomorrow 🙂
  2. Check your routines. In chaos, small details often make the difference (the butterfly effect in chaos theories). It’s a bit the equivalent of cleaning your boat every day, checking the sails and tying everything up well before the storm.
    In my case, it is in times of crisis that I particularly maintain my daily morning routines (meditation, reading, re-reading my dreams, not looking at my emails before 11 am). It helps me to step back to analyze the situation and make the right decisions.

The Right Questions (and My Answers)

Let’s use the great reading grid of crisis management specialist Patrick Lagadec. I met him 30 years ago and I appreciate his ability to have developed his vision, his understanding and his advice on crises.

  • What is it about? What is the true nature of this crisis? My answer: this is an economic crisis and a social and political crisis. It is not or no longer only a health crisis. It is therefore for an economic and social crisis that I am preparing (see below)
  • What are the pitfalls? In my case, I identified: panic, denial, anger, paralysis or on the contrary over-reacting, being overwhelmed with information, listening to the same information over and over again
  • Who are we going to work with? Who are the friends, collaborators, partners, customers, suppliers with whom I will be able to discuss and create innovative and adapted solutions? I also created my Quick Thinking Force: a few people with whom I am in regular contact to exchange and reflect together and with whom I exchange daily on the subject
  • If you have an idea, please say it! Good ideas can come from anywhere, from everyone and not necessarily from specialists. I personally take care to show great humility in my discussions and exchanges. It is not because I am a “specialist in chaos, crises and resilience” that it is I who will have the good ideas …

Intelligence and Information

I use a process that Patrick Lagadec had shared with me during a conversation after the terrorist attacks in Paris:

  • I’m going to get the information. It is not information that comes to me. I am preparing a list of questions to which I would like to have answers (less than 10 questions) and I consult a limited number of media (no social media like Facebook or Twitter!) to try to have answers to these questions. I consult these media regularly (everything changes very quickly) but not too often so as not to put myself in a state of permanent excitement.
    In my case once or twice a day maximum I consult an “International” newspaper (foreign and global view) a “national” one and a local newspaper depending on where I am. I am also following some “expert” sites.
    I consult and stay in regular contact with my Quick Thinking Force.

By operating in this way I have more than enough information to make the right decisions while keeping a cool head 🙂

Some Practical Advice:

  • BRACE FOR IMPACT: I think we are entering a major and lasting economic crisis. This will lead to a significant drop in activity in many sectors today: cancellation of events, trade fairs, sporting events, travel bans in many companies, the collapse of tourism, the breakdown of logistics chains, failures of suppliers, tensions and endangerment of health systems …
    Can you postpone non-essential personal or business investments? How is your cash situation? Can you manage your activity from your home and how? How to ensure the survival of your activity if the turnover decreases by XX%? Who are your alternative suppliers? Can you implement alternative supply chains? Etc.
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t shake hands (for my french audience: don’t kiss either)… and be creative to find other gestures of conviviality or friendship. By the way, laughter and humor are also contagious 🙂
  • Check and complete your stocks of water, food, possibly medicines, food for your furry friends, household products, etc. for one to two weeks autonomy
  • If you don’t have one yet, prepare a Go Bag. Make it a fun project with your family 🙂
  • Have some cash at home
  • Start a logbook where you can write down all your questions, your actions, your doubts. It helps you to keep cool and it will help you later to find the lessons from this experience
  • With your family or if you manage one or more teams, be transparent, share your information, your doubts, your fears. This helps maintain or build an essential element in the event of a crisis or storm on the boat: trust
  • Take good care of yourself: sleep, diet, physical condition, stress
  • Schedule time for “emptiness” in the storm: meditation, walking in nature, reading, moments of pleasure…

How to Benefit From the Crisis?

Ask yourself the following questions that are essential for your resilience, that of your loved ones and your community:

  • How can I take advantage of this crisis? For example, it may be a good time to read a book, start an online course, improve your skills in your domain, call friends…
  • What can I do in this exceptional time that I could not normally do? I offer remote formats to my customers and partners. I take advantage of the time freed in the event of a conference cancellation to review my website, my communication tools, reflect on my content, etc.
  • How can I help others, my loved ones, my community, the world? I regularly call my family, my loved ones to hear from them, to share my analysis and my advice. And I send you this email to share my ideas!
    As a counter-example, I have a friend who was “quarantined” by his company (one of the largest French companies) following a week’s vacation in Asia. To date, after more than a week, no one from his hierarchy or the medical service has called him to hear from him (he is very well)


In summary, do not forget your dreams, check that everything is ready onboard your boat, take care of others… and happily surf on the tsunami of changes!

And you, how are you handling this crisis? Do you consider it a crisis? Tell me in the comments!

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