The world after corona: The big, bad disruption wolf is here with us

Friday April 10 2020


A staff member of Kenya's Ministry of Health sprays disinfectant on a rock which people sit on to curb the spread of the Covid-19 at the Gikomba Market in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 21, 2020. PHOTO | GORDWIN ODHIAMBO | AFP 

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For the past few years, we preached the gospel of disruption, saying it was not a matter of if but rather, when.

We shared examples of entire industries that vanished, and of companies that were once market leaders but had to close shop. We told clients that it would shake up everything they knew to the core.

We told them about the difference between reacting and responding and how most people react to disruption instead of responding. That is why such services are called rapid response and not rapid reaction.

Well, disruption did eventually come in the form of an unseen enemy—a coronavirus —Covid-19. The world will now be classified into pre-corona and post-corona eras.

When we sounded the alarm of the impending disruption we were classified in some circles as prophets of doom. Now, we have another prophecy and this is even graver than the first.

The greatest attack of Covid-19 has been on health and life. Hundreds of thousands of people are getting infected and tens of thousands dying.


The greatest post-corona challenge will be the disruption of human behaviour. Experts say that social distancing and home-stay will go on for a while. 

They are talking in terms of months and not days. By the time it is over new habits will have been established and new realities will be in place. Now why is this important for business?

In my youth, the emergence of video cassette recorders was huge. The exchange of videos among friends became common practice because it was not practical to own all the movies you wanted at home. Now this led to a whole new industry as it were - the emergence of video shops and rentals. 

Blockbuster, for instance was so big that at its peak in November 2004, employed 84,300 people worldwide. Then smart entrepreneurs came up with online streaming that tolled the bells for Blockbuster. As at March 2020, there remained only one Blockbuster shop on Earth.

Charting consumer habits

Business strategy is built around consumer habits. Success is largely dependent on how well to read human habits and create products and services aligned with these.
The post-corona era will be ruthless and unforgiving to organisations that are unable to accurately read the post-corona habits.

Coronavirus has forced new wine skins upon us and how we respond will determine the future of organisations.

How have customer habits been affected and how are we able to create solutions for the new ones? Human resource officers also need to ask how employees’ habits have been affected.

In spite of people not physically coming to work, interactions and business still got done via online platforms. What, therefore, is the compelling need for huge office spaces and for people to drive to work spending countless hours in traffic?

If there is no such need, money can be saved on utility bills for those spaces, furniture and security.

It is at the aftermath of war where nations are rebuilt or broken. Coronavirus has waged its war but it is the aftermath that will give birth to the corporate champions of a post-corona world.

Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, PowerTalks.