The Unbearable Lightness of Plan B

By Elisa Brescianini, FEDERTEC Treasurer

Father Dante, in the XVII° Canto of Paradise, wrote “lighting bolt, come slowly”. What has happened around the globe in 2020 is indeed a lighting bolt, one difficult to foresee, and of such rapid spread that the most pessimistic forecasts have now, sadly, come true. If we look back, not even that far back, to the Spanish flu pandemic of the 20th century, what we are going through now should not come as so much of a surprise, unfortunately, in a world where we wish to control the future, this time we have been caught out cold. And so, the economic global outlook for 2020, which wasn’t at all bad, has suddenly disintegrated in our hands creating a domino effect that has spared no-one, with a chain of events so rapid that it has been difficult even to comprehend the evolution, let alone, manage or plan for it. Consumer goods demand is practically zero, production has dropped to a standstill, services cut to the bare bones. Italian excellence in sectors like and fashion are in serious difficulty, automotive has never experienced such a crisis and the list could go on. The absence of governmental solutions, the inability to support companies and employees, the need to find a way out from the stagnation means that every member of the business community has – once again – had to roll up their own sleeves and do everything they can to pull their company, be it large or small, from the quick-sands of this unforeseen economic meltdown. No-one had the famous “Plan B”. This leads us to the asking of some serious questions on two key topics: the innate human need to predict the future and our ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Ancient civilizations sought prophecies in the most improbable places, consulting the Cumaean Sybil, reading coffee grounds in cups. Today, companies work on 10 year strategy plans, investing huge resources on projections that are often revealed to be useless or incomplete hypotheses. This year the winners will be those reactive enough to exploit what was left of economic potential. Once more, the man as strategist has lost out to the man who has the skill to adapt and survive.