For several months now we have watched governments trying to deal with Covid-19. Every country is trying to deal with something totally new and each country has to face different environments.
The countries are all of different sizes and population densities. Each country has a different concept of freedom versus responsibility. Each country has a different economic model with differing dependencies on global markets. Each country has a different model of governance and so on.
It is also a situation where there was no known solution to the problem. Because of this there was no one to turn to who could point you to the right route to take. There were also those that didn’t want advice anyway as it was felt it would demonstrate weakness.
As I looked at all of issues it was hard not to equate the responses to the pandemic to those that entrepreneurs routinely face.
Invariably the entrepreneur is moving into an unknown situation. This will often be one where the past is not an indicator of the future and where the route taken will not guarantee success.
The entrepreneur will have to ensure that the product or service is acceptable to the chosen marketplace while, at the same time, ensuring financial survival.
Most importantly, the entrepreneur is used to dealing with the doubters and those that tell them they are doing it wrong! They will be surrounded by ‘experts’ that know better than them and that may even suggest giving up and getting a proper job. Consultants, accountants, lawyers and other professionals head this list, but are closely followed by academics and parents.
That is not to say that the entrepreneur does not seek out a critical friend as a sounding board. Entrepreneurs that truly go it alone often run into trouble as they follow a single path regardless of potential hazards.
The entrepreneur will also find that when things do work then there are plenty to claim that they were part of the solution.
Governments are now suffering the same problems as they embark on tackling the unknown. They are criticised by those with no responsibility for success. ‘Experts’ on all sides surround them. Many of these ‘experts’ have no accountability if their advice proves false. Indeed, from scientists, to media, TV pundits, opposition politicians and the bar room lawyers, the world is suddenly overrun with ‘experts’!
Like the entrepreneur, they suffer from the cynics. The anti-vaxers, the anti-maskers and the conspiracy theorists will imply the problem doesn’t really exist. There is little difference to this attitude and the way cynics try to denigrate the work of entrepreneurs.
What I see are governments all wrestling with the same problem but in different environments and with different options for solving the problem. In the same way that electricity may bring resources to developed countries, it cannot do the same thing to tribes living in remote communities. Rarely is there a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Likewise, the pandemic is global but must be addressed taking local conditions into account.
It is pointless trying to evaluate a country’s performance against another with totally different parameters and certainly not half way through the pandemic. Last week for a fleeting moment, my football team was top of the Premier League. That does not mean that they will still be there next May. Indeed, they were not there one day later.
I have experienced more than one country dealing with the pandemic. Each has approached it in a different way because they have very different environments and priorities. All of them get criticism from one quarter or another. Much of that criticism comes from people without all of the facts, with a personal axe to grind or who see an opportunity for vested self-interest.
Entrepreneurs often ask me if they will be successful. I tell them there are no guarantees. The same is true for the countries I have experienced during the pandemic. I have no idea if they will be successful in their approach.
The test will be similar to those of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur judges himself or herself against his or her objectives when they embarked on the journey, not against the objectives or success of others. Governments will ultimately be judged against the objectives that drove their actions.
More importantly, once it is over then the entrepreneur’s customers and the politicians’ voters will decide. However, they should both be judged on the end result and not on speculation at the development stage. To decide on the end result of either until you have seen it is both arrogant and flawed.