Covid’s lesson: the improbable can very quickly become the possible

Business leaders must ensure strategy allows for unexpected events

The Dow Jones ticker in Times Square, New York, displaying news about Lehman Brothers on September 10th, 2008. The bank failed because it prioritised short-term gain over the necessity to develop a future-proofed strategy. Photograph: Bloomberg News

The Dow Jones ticker in Times Square, New York, displaying news about Lehman Brothers on September 10th, 2008. The bank failed because it prioritised short-term gain over the necessity to develop a future-proofed strategy. Photograph: Bloomberg News

In the weeks and months ahead we will undoubtedly hear corporate management teams blame Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown for their company’s poor performance.

Yet in a century that has so far been pockmarked by conflict, recession, political turbulence and, increasingly, climate-related catastrophes, why were these business leaders unprepared for a global crisis of some kind? No matter how improbable.

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