When does a crisis become the new normal? The Five Stages of Shipping in 2021

The five stages of shipping

If you’ve followed EES Shipping for a while now, you’ll know that the international shipping industry has undergone a major set of changes in the past 18 months. We’ve outlined a lot of those changes and what they mean for our clients and the broader public several times because we feel it’s important for everyone to understand how quickly a drop in the ocean can become a major ripple effect globally. Not that a massive freight liner getting stuck in the Suez Canal is exactly a drop in the ocean, but it was a pretty visual example of how a simple problem in one port or region, can soon become multiple problems across ports across the world.

The question we’ve been asking ourselves recently though is when do all the things that we’ve had to deal with in the last year become less problems we just have to grin and bear, and more conditions that we have to accept and factor into our planning long term?

Like lots of other industries, ours tends to go in cycles… nice, predictable cycles. We can usually look at the year at any point and say with some degree of confidence, yes that’s where we’re at, that’s what should be happening and that’s what we can predict will happen. In 2020? Not a chance. Like nearly every other aspect of our lives that have been impacted by the COVID crisis, the cycles we used to be able to cling to have changed significantly.

The reality is we’ve been going through what we at EES are defining as the Five Stages of Shipping in 2021. You might be able to guess where we’re going with this.

Typically the five stages of grief look a little something like this:

  • Denial: A common defence mechanism to give yourself time to process something and absorb it gradually.
  • Anger: Not necessarily a coping mechanism, but more of a way of masking the pain and frustration you might be feeling.
  • Bargaining: When you start trying to influence some control over a situation that feels helpless and vulnerable.
  • Depression: The ‘stuck’ feeling where none of the things you’ve tried have worked and you’re still in the funk.
  • Acceptance: It’s not necessarily a good or fun phase, but it is the stage that helps you understand where the changes that have come into your life will fit.

Now we’re not trying to say that we’re grieving how things used to be in the international shipping industry, but we are starting to recognise these same kinds of patterns in our thinking processes.

Read more here.