Which governments succeeded and which have failed in meeting the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic?  Well – as ever – it depends on your definition of succcess.

There are two main factors against which the future will judge governments: the first is public health and well-being; the second is economic performance.   The first will be judged over the next 1 or 2 years; the second over the next 10 or 20 years.

We can, though, make some suggestions as to how some governments are doing according to their current policies and actions.  I can only comment in any detail on the UK situation but it does seem as though too many governments have been too reactive and have little in the way of strategy governing what they do. Of course, this pandemic is fairly fast-moving and governments must react to developments – but this should be within a strategy/policy framework based on pre-pandemic thinking and scenario planning.  (We knew that some form of pandemic was a possibility based on global experience of SARS, bird-flu, ebola, etc.)

In terms of economic planning, a downturn in economic activity is generally a time to turn to future planning – and especially manpower planning… reviewing future manpower needs and adjusting education and training accordingly s well as investin g in infrastructure.  I have seen little evidence of this – where is the government drive for training and skills development?  The UK government invested hugely in a ‘furlough’ scheme whereby employee wages were paid by the government to avoid companies having to make those employees redundant.  However, the government could have made such support contingent on those employees undergoing some form of skills development.  This was an opportunity missed to help create the potential for future productivity gains – and to help those employees feel valued.

The pandemic is likely to be with us for some time.  It is not too late to impose some critical and creative thinking and establish some forward strategy in support of a vision for a post-pandemic nation.   

Lobby your government to think before they (re)act.