The Speed Premium in an exponentially growing pandemic world

I’ve blogged a few times in the past about the importance of speed, and speed as an input into productivity and innovation. What many people do not realize is that “the speed premium” is vastly higher when a deadly virus is doubling in reach every five to seven days.

An economic or epidemiological plan from a week ago might be worthless or even misleading today.  For instance, some scientists have told me that at some point, if the virus is widespread enough, there is no choice but to let it burn its way through the population (not saying we are there yet, probably not according to the consensus of experts I am seeing).

Have you perused recent newspapers and mentally noted how many of the articles — such as reviews of art exhibitions — obviously were written and planned in The Time Before (can I call it that?).  Those articles are now largely worthless, though a few of them may have nostalgia value.

If you are writing commentary, the value is being there is the morning, not the evening.  The “commentary cycle” used to stretch at least a day or two, occasionally a full week.

The corporate value of being prepared early with a good telework plan has been especially high.

Ben Thompson writes: “…on January 23, the day that China locked down Wuhan, Taiwan had the capability of producing 2.44 million masks a day; this week Taiwan is expected to exceed 13 million masks a day, a sufficient number for not only medical workers but also the general public.”

If you are seeking to start a business, to deal with the third party vendors that Amazon is (temporarily) abandoning, you cannot just wait a month or two.  You have to start now.

The Chinese system has its flaws from an anti-pandemic point of view, most of all low transparency.  But their typical rapid speed of response has been astonishing — setting up that hospital in six days — and it is a big reason why they are on a (partial) rebound.

If you are giving philanthropic grants, you have to be ready to give them now.  If you give them three months from now, you may well miss the boat in terms of expected impact.

Are you ready for a world where the speed premium is so insanely high?

I wish to thank Daniel Gross for a conversation related to this blog post.  We spoke at 3.5x.


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