From Spaghetti Westerns to Superheroes to Star Wars… Covid-19 Scenario Sets

The advent of COVID-19 in December 2019 saw governments, think tanks and business leaders rapidly fretting about the potential scale and scope of this novel pandemic. Soon the strategic conversation settled on projected rates of infection and the ability of healthcare infrastructures to cope with potentially surging demand. With these projections varying widely, we created 4 different Scenarios to depict how things may actually play out. To add dimension and interpretation, we’ve given titles and descriptions to our Scenarios, based on iconic characters and storylines.

Spaghetti Western Scenarios

For A Few Dollars More

A relatively light infection rate in a robust healthcare system

The Good

Clint Eastwood’s character “Blondie” as symbolic of a jurisdiction experiencing severe infection rates, but also with a robust healthcare system

The Bad

Lee Van Cleef’s character “Angel Eyes” as a jurisdiction with severe infection rates and a failing healthcare infrastructure

The Ugly

Eli Wallach’s character “Tuco” aka “The Rat” as severe infection rates in a weak healthcare system

Based on the characterization of each of these 4 Scenarios, we then developed Playbooks for each. This involved splitting each Scenario into two sections for analysis:

(1) What must be done because of COVID-19, regardless of anything else? and

(2) What must specifically be done under each different Scenario?

Our initial Scenarios and Playbooks are serving their purpose well. And our strategic discourse can comfortably migrate from the Spaghetti Western Scenarios to our next phase of Scenarios.

Superhero Scenarios

Captain America




Under the Superheroes Scenario set, we look at the period of lockdown in each jurisdiction and the positive or negative government support in each quadrant. Then we develop strategies for short and longer lockdown periods and for little or sufficient government support.

Star Wars Scenarios

Moving further forward, as the pandemic begins to decline, we’re steering our strategic discourse to the next set of Scenarios that we’ve themed around the epic Star Wars series. We use these storylines as a metaphor to deep dive into community behavioral responses and the readiness of industries to rebuild. Unknown answers around return to work, civil unrest, supply chain adaptions and debt are explored.

Our upcoming newsletter Partner’s Views will explore more strategic issues under each of these Superhero Scenarios and Star Wars Scenarios.

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Gideon Malherbe

Gideon Malherbe is a partner of VCI Ltd, a global strategy design company. Gideon is well known for his development and implementation of unique methodologies and strategic insights that deliver truly extraordinary results to clients. As a visionary, Gideon has orchestrated some of the largest strategy, innovation, and digitization projects in the Mining & Metals and Oil & Gas industries, the results of which have become enduring models worldwide.