There will be waves. We can see it now. The chart above shows six jurisdictions (countries, mostly, but also one US State). The data is the reported number of confirmed new cases by day. Spain has clearly peaked. Brazil is starting much later, and still skyrocketing up, to high levels. Canada and the US are slowly driving down stubborn new case rates. Texas is shown to make that point that while the US is slowing overall, some states (e.g. Texas) are still a work in progress, maybe even climbing. The data is as of mid-May. 2020.

What will happen next is really a good question. Second wave? Many waves? Stubborn first wave that doesn’t really go down to zero.? The answer is,. of course, … yes.



It’ll be different everywhere. Every scenario will occur. There’ll be different answers everywhere, and in every jurisdiction there will be different responses to local cases, travel restrictions, commercial decisions, local and domestic cases, and international cases.

So the real question becomes, in the face of all this uncertainty, how do you plan? What do you do? If you operate in only one jurisdiction, your life is a bit easier. If you are in many jurisidctions, you have a host of issues.

Consider the three “next wave” scenarios below. Each is feasible. How might you respond in each of them? They would each lead to quite different responses by governments, and by individuals.

Different scenarios would lead to different responses and quite different situations.

In a “Big Wave” scenario, health care resources might be overloaded. Would that lead to more, or even more restrictive, lockdowns. If the first scenario of smaller managed waves occurs, might we find a way to live for a while with the status quo of social distancing, restaurants with people 2 meters apart? When would air travel return. When you go next to a National Park? How do you buy a house or car in that scenario?

The Roller Coaster might be the scariest scenario. with every climbing wave, we might fear the “big wave” scenario.

Add to these different scenarios three other layers of uncertainty:

  • Every government and jurisdiction is likely to be slightly (or seriously) different;
  • People’s tolerance and goodwill may prove taxed if the economic, social toll climbs too high and is out of whack with the perceived health risk; We already knwo the next normal will be different from whatever we left behind. Work from home? Sure. Public transit? Carefully. Schools? Offices buildings? Shopping? Air travel? Global Supply chains? It will all be one big evolving mix.
  • There is no certainty about the timing of a vaccine, which will operate under its own timeline. Governments may want to rush that, but there are risks to that too.

For companies, rich data about the state of the situation in all your markets might be a critical part of planning, and the vital information that will help you to plan your re-opening strategy, manage (or preserve) your capital, and serve your customers.

A key input to Scenario Planning, is data. What might happen. If “that” happens – how would we know, and what would we do about it? Reach out to talk to us about Scenario Planning in action.