Scenarios for COVID 19 for Organisational Strategy

Scenarios to help you deal with the uncertainty that lies ahead

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a lot of people in fear and confusion. In recent discussions with clients, I realised that there was a need for some foresight-based work to help them clarify what their strategy around COVID-19 might be over the next 18 months. So I have created a set of scenarios that people can use to help navigate through the uncertainty.

If you want a summary of the scenarios please scroll to the bottom of the page. Or you can just download the scenarios or look at the short videos we have created to explain them.

If you want to enroll in a webinar on the scenarios or engage me for a one on one consultation then there are options below.

Paul Higgins

Update July 10th 2020

Given that the situation in Victoria has changed dramatically we have created a new set of scenarios for the next 6 weeks that look at the short term and longer-term implications for all of Australia.

Here is what I presented and wrote in late May:

 I think the most likely scenario is one of ongoing clusters of infection and wider outbreaks as we increase the number and range of interactions between people. This will be exacerbated by complacency in the general population. If cases stay low for a number of weeks, it is my view that this increases the risk in the medium term as it is exhausting for people to maintain hygiene and social distancing measures in the face of a threat that does not seem to be materialising.

There are particular risks in regional areas what have experienced little or no disease to date but may get an influx of visitors as restrictions on travel are reduced.

The government response will be to jump on these outbreaks as quickly as possible through testing and contact tracing and some level of shutdown, depending on the scale of the problem. This becomes harder the more interactions there are between people, but I am confident that we can achieve this and not end up experiencing some of the terrible situations in other countries.

The shutdown responses may include:

  • Shutdowns of individual businesses, organisations and schools as we have already been experiencing.
  • Wider shutdowns of areas or building types as we have seen in the closure of nightclubs in South Korea.
  • Wider regional restriction or even imposition/reimposition of state barriers to movement if things start to get out of hand.

The new scenarios expand on this, given that is where we are now.

You can still access the older scenarios as well.

Paul Higgins

Download the scenarios

We have some short videos explaining the scenarios in the downloadable paper

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Small Group Webinars Available

If you are interested, I am running a number of small group webinars where we will:

  1. ·       Explain the basics of transmission of the Coronavirus that underpin the scenarios.
  2. ·       Present the scenarios in detail.
  3. ·       Go through my personal (not business) strategy.
  4. ·       Allow questions from the participants
  5. ·       Supply a written copy of the scenarios after the event.
  6. ·       Give people an opportunity to book a one on one video consultation after the scenarios to discuss individual organisation strategy questions and proposals that flow from the scenarios.

By the end of the webinar, participants will have a good understanding of the factors that drive infection and an understanding of the four presented scenarios that they can apply to their strategy over the next 18 months.

If you would rather have a one to one briefing then that can be arranged. Please get in touch at:

Here are some participant responses :

“To remain resilient during business cycles and identify new growth opportunities we need the best tools to help guide us through. Paul’s expertise in both epidemiology and strategy enabled him to provide logical scenarios applied across different industry sectors that may apply during the COVID-19 crisis.  This valuable session has enabled me to identify and plan for potential new risks, as well as identify opportunities to capture new markets in a rapidly changing world. The most valuable 60 minutes discussion that I’ve had this week!”

Chris Richards,


Apiam (ASX Listed Company)

Thanks again for a great presentation and discussion on the COVID-19 scenarios you have written. Our members got some real insight from thinking about what might happen in the next 18th months and I have already recommended that the material be distributed across all the members of the CEO Institute.

Denzil Griffiths, Syndicate Chair,  CEO Institute

Congratulations Paul. That preso was world-class. Deserving of a global audience.

Mark Jankelson, Chair SVP Melbourne, Board Member SVP Global

Scenario Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a lot of people in fear and confusion.

A couple of days ago I wrote a piece about how to go from foresight to strategy (

In recent discussions with clients, I realised that there was a need for some foresight-based work to help them clarify what their strategy around COVID-19 might be over the next 18 months.

The central core of my foresight work is that people need to hold multiple pictures of the future in their heads and adjust their strategy depending on which of them seems to be emerging in the real world.

That is hard to do if information is constantly changing so I have worked up five scenarios to help clients with that problem.

I have decided to release them publicly to help people with their strategy. Please see the download link below.

I have a unique set of skills in this area given that I am trained as a futurist and have worked across many organisations in the last 20 years, but I am also a veterinarian with experience in disease outbreaks in animals. I was also an inaugural director of Animal Health Australia which was formed to respond to exotic disease threats and have participated in both preparedness exercises and the real thing as a veterinary participant in the peak response committee.

I am not claiming expertise in human epidemiology but the experience I have does allow me to bridge the gap between the science and people trying to run organisations in these challenging times.

Using Australia as the basis for a case study which is applicable globally the scenarios are based on three key drivers:

1.     The basic science behind viral transmission in outbreaks.

2.     The behaviour of people in response to an outbreak.

3.     The political and economic responses to an outbreak.

The scenarios are:

Contained Pandemic

Extreme containment measures work to reduce the Pandemic but there are global long-term consequences.

Acute Pandemic

Containment measures do not work, and cases rise exponentially across the globe.

Extended Pandemic

At two different levels. Containment measures work in a limited way to slow the pace of the epidemic.

Rolling Pandemic

Containment measures work to significantly slow the epidemic, but reduction of those containment measures allows the pandemic to gain pace again.

I have also included a Wildcard scenario that looks at potential for different infection patterns.

It is my strong belief that the understanding that flows from scenarios like these can achieve three things:

1.     A reduction in levels of uncertainty and fear.

2.     Increased capacity to create strategy right now.

3.     Increased capacity to respond to the inevitable change and shocks will occur.