i3 | April 05, 2021

The Post-Pandemic New Administration New Reality

Gary Shapiro

With a new administration and more people getting vaccinated, we sense a brightening light at the end of the tunnel. It is beautiful to some and blinding to others. But we are approaching a strategic inflection point and need to consider scenarios for our post-pandemic world.

Here is my thinking:

1. The end of the pandemic won’t be sudden. The road will be bumpy. There will be fits and starts. Countries will recover at different times and many will keep restrictions in place. Easy global travel will be slow to return.

2. The Biden era will be more stable on a daily basis, but its global strategy shifts may be huge. The new administration has raised tensions with China by legally accepting the Trump characterization of China as committing genocide of Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority, and invited Taiwan’s top-ranking Washington diplomat to attend the Inauguration. President Biden is challenging Russia, reversing immigration restrictions and making jobs a priority in trade talks. And Commerce Secretary-designate Gina Raimondo backed the use of tariffs and export limits in her confirmation hearing.

3. Business priorities and practices will continue to change. Social responsibility and environmental impact have become priorities. Leaders are expected to speak out on big, divisive issues.

We live in a time of massive change. This means new strategies as well as new opportunities.

4. Some COVID-19 changes will last. Decisions will be made quickly. Supply chains will move from sole source and become more flexible. We will slowly return to face-to-face events, but many meetings will stay digital. Some employees will want to stay home. Some people will be reluctant to travel. People will invest in their homes. Many will leave cities. Offices and office buildings will shrink and be sold or repurposed.

5. Our nation must move to the middle to survive. Our cleaved country has millions of people with different realities and alternative sources of news, and it is threatening democracy. The bipartisan Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus (an outgrowth of No Labels, which CTA helps fund) will grow in size and influence, as the near perfect Democrat-to-Republican equal numbers in Congress give power to a strong middle. Long term, we may emulate others who elect not the most popular extremes but rather the most liked (or least disliked) candidate. We also must listen and respond to the nation’s disenfranchised.

We live in a time of massive change. This means new strategies as well as new opportunities. Countries and companies (including trade associations) cannot do business as usual or expect things will go back to the old normal. 

We are moving quickly toward a new normal, and scenario planning and strategy require thought, investment and change.

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