The times we collectively face today are among the most difficult endured in the last generation. Never in the last 75 years has an event had such a wide-spread effect on every dimension of both American and Global-life simultaneously. The COVID-19 Pandemic has underscored the need for crisis management approaches that can harness modern technology to maintain business continuity and outlast the quarantine until society resumes normal behavior. The good news is that crisis also bears opportunity—businesses that can survive and operate effectively will improve their competitive position when normal life resumes. Furthermore, in times of crisis, employees have space and openness for change that is un-paralleled during normal times—meaning that these times are when truly innovative solutions can be discussed and implemented on previously un-thinkable timelines.
To find historical metaphors for COVID-19 we must look back to World War II. it was the summer of 1942 and the Japanese were on the march across the Pacific. At the Battle of Coral Sea, the Japanese struck a major blow to an already injured United States Navy (USN) by delivering a mission-kill to the USS Yorktown. The Yorktown limped back to a still-damaged Pearl Harbor with no hope of being back in the fight for several months. Admiral Chester Nimitz, desperately needing the Yorktown to stem the growing Japanese threat to the US West Coast—challenged his team and had the Yorktown back-to-sea in less than five days. The Yorktown went on to surprise two Japanese battlegroups at the Battle of Midway and helped deliver a defeat so complete that it stopped the Japanese advance and turned the tide on the Pacific front.