What is COVID-19 Teaching Us

Two major lessons we have learnt in the last 4 months; we as humans do not have total control and dominion over our environment and that we need to look after each other. Are there some, if any, trying to go back the pseudo-comfortable, non-sustainable, non-agile pre-covid era?

Yes, business will return as it always has, some will have been in the right place and the right mindset, with the right product/service to make the most of a catastrophe, for the rest of us it is not so good. The question is, what has been learnt and are we putting these learnings into practice. Are we evolving as people, as businesses and societies to manage this return to business.

There will be a huge number of specific lessons for businesses but with a broad brush I propose that we should, as businesses, have learnt some generic, wide reaching lessons and be taking actions to update our processes and policies to reflect the new normal. The obvious ones that comes to mind:

  • How do we keep velocity up in the decision-to-implementation process? We had a LOT of noise and extended project time within business, with the discussions, budgeting, planning and execution. Yet when time was seen as critical because of the situation we got things over the line in months instead of years.
  • Have all the contracts been reviewed and updated for new, realistic and versatile SLAs/KPIs, termination triggers and with flexibility to cover unexpected events.
  • Have alternative sourcing protocols been instigated. Have supply lines been reviewed for potential outages and solutions agreed with suppliers.
  • BCP (Business Continuity Plans) – this is the document that for so long was only given lip-service. So… has a BCP been drafted and in place, covering many, broad scenarios.
  • Have HR and WHS policies and systems been put in place that will ensure the safety and welfare yet effectiveness of all employees. Is WFH a new paradigm within the business? Has the working “space” been reviewed?
  • Cyber-tech. Any lessons here? Was software and hardware adequate (also the current trend for security breaches must be included). Did you manage without issues? Is this area a major part of your new BCP – what happens if there was a software COVID, a major, self-propagating virus that had no “vaccine” yet far more contagious than we have seen to date (rest assured, someone will be working on designing one). Most could recover but the outcome for too many could be fatal.
  • Psychological impacts and fallout from a major incident how are they going to be handled and addressed. People will be anxious and more focused on self-preservation (jobs and lives). Will there be an avoidance of risk, will this add value or limit the ability of your business to survive. Plus, the fallout will not just included employees, there will be multiple stresses placed on everyone within society, including suppliers, customer and investors. All will now have their own priorities.

Those are some of the lessons that I can quickly think of to date, there will be more as the economy improves for as history shows, the economy will not return like the slow turning of a tap, it will come in surges and waves.

So you survived the initial downturn, do you have systems and people in place who can work with agility and velocity to keep up with a variable, unknown return.

There will be changes in all areas of life, especially now as we have a second wave of COVID-19 rolling through many countries, reinforcing the fact that we are not as invincible as we thought and yet we are capable of stepping up when we have too.

Overall lesson: do we now know HOW and WHEN to step up.

“Normality” post COVID-19

What ever was ‘normal’? It will more then likely depend on your definition of the word, but typically it meant whatever was happening most regularly. For example,  we all know that it is not normal from a health or even human perspective to be overweight but as society has become more psychologically reliant on food and we now have such a high percentage of our pollination being overweight THIS is considered normal.

So, normal for some was affluence, even avarice and without care or concern of others, for some it was abject poverty and disrepair, yet for many of us it was on the scale in between these two extremes.

So should we even be contemplating returning to the old normal? No!

Thinking about returning to an old normal would be a complete waste of time and energy. It would be like trying to turn back time. Things HAVE changed, attitudes have changed, along with fear and anxiety as will as the opportunities that have appeared and the lessons we have learnt – as individuals, groups, cultures and as humanity.

Humans have culturally evolved to acquire knowledge and beliefs through copying others. Although advances in science, religion and society is usually by invention (by looking at the evidence and deciding for ourselves), few people are inclined to this way of thinking, much of the time these same people are ostracised until the majority eventually realise “oh-ah that’s a good idea”.

Plus, we cannot rely on the misinformation and disinformation drafted and distributed by those with a political or self-financial agenda (the trick here is: if you start saying “oh its the XXXX, who are being political, not my team” then you ARE being seduced and deluded). And this is why the “news” can also have such a negative affect on each of us and all of us. Try this to see whether you are like most people or one of the enlightened, intuitive ones: part one – turn on your favourite news channel and then try to DISAGREE with everything they present, part two – now turn on a channel you actually dislike and try to find a way to AGREE with everything they present.

The critical question here is, are you able to use critical thinking and decipher what is actually news (information) form BOTH channels or do you struggle and go back to preferring your original channel because it supports/reinforces your perception of the world without thought or consideration?

Now back to the point, Normality. So the challenge is to make the New Normal better than it was. Keep that which did work for our (humanity’s) benefit and let go of that which added no value or was detrimental. This is an opportunity that only comes around after a major catastrophe, so we need to make the most of  THIS opportunity and not squander it, for we certainly do not want another catastrophe.

Nearly every century there has been a major event that changed the way humanity behaved and progressed – sometimes this was a regression (backwards) as with the ‘Dark Ages” beginning around the 5th century. It is now OUR time to move forward, learn the lessons and become better at being human.

This challenge for the “new”  will rely of ALL of us to step up. Are you up for the challenge or will you sit back, look back and wait for someone else to decide your fate.

 

Other light reading. Some of which I agree with, some not, some is just information: