COVID-19: Life will never be the same

Red paper airplane taking off from white paper airplanes

When I was a young adult there was a particular tragedy in my life, and I remember my mother’s words so vividly after it happened. She said, “After this, your life will never be the same again.” Today I am the father of three children, all young adults, and watching the events of COVID-19 for the past two months I have stated in my own way to them that their world will never be the same.

In my professional context, I think about how COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way patients and doctors can interact with a virtual visit and how universities sent their students home to finish out the academic year through remote instruction. These capabilities have been available for broad use for a number of years, but we’ve been challenged with change management and organizational resistance.

“There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.”  — Vladimir Lenin

COVID-19 is the inflection point that will become the crux of the stories we’ll tell 20 years from now, in much the same way we tell stories today about the rise of the Internet. Some of you remember that. It’s an “e-commerce site.”  That’s what Amazon was – eCommerce – selling books. We would argue over hyphen or no-hyphen, big E or little e. This seems ridiculous now. In 2020, we just buy our stuff “online.” It’s just commerce.

Twenty years from now, we won’t call it a “virtual visit” with the doctor. I could just say, “I had my annual physical this week.” You might ask, “Did you use the avatar or FaceTime with your doctor?”  I could reply, “No, I actually went in to see her this time because I really wanted her to see how my varicose veins have expanded versus last year’s tricorder reading.” This will just be “healthcare.”

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity.” ― John F. Kennedy

Technology is playing a vital role in responding to the crisis, and in shaping the new world that comes out of it. It represents both opportunity and danger. While technology is enabling hybrid models for education simultaneously in-person and remote, the danger comes in the form of economic inequality and digital divides that exacerbate the haves and the have-not’s that are staring us in the face.

If you are a technology leader in your organization, you should be not just thinking about, but actively positioning your team to lead these conversations. This is what we mean by strategic change. There will be no better opportunity for this; there is no better time to start the conversation. Now is not the time to say, “I’m so busy.” Leaders make the time.

So take a deep breath, gather the leadership competencies you’ve been building, use the tools we have at our fingertips, and help your organizations not just survive, but chart a course to thrive. 

I call it “respond, recover, reinforce, reimagine.” I’ll cover this more in a blog post soon.

Game on.

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  1. Pat McCarthy on June 17, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Gartner is predicting that the “work from home” ratio will grow from the former 17% to 40% post Covid, with many companies having all employees remote. That alone will change the world! Traffic, real estate, technology, the ideas are staggering!

  2. Jim R. on June 15, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Great perspective and love the title….well done.

    • Tom Andriola on June 15, 2020 at 5:18 pm

      Jim, Thanks. I’ll try to keep it fresh

  3. Molly Greek on June 12, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    I just had my first video visit last week. It was seamless, cost effective and took about 20 minutes including downloading the app. There’s no going back for me now that we are here. I’m excited for the future of healthcare that is available without delay or high costs. I think its nicer for the providers as well, they can choose when to work and do it from their home. I agree this is an inflection point.

    • Tom Andriola on June 15, 2020 at 5:19 pm

      Technology adoption by the technology professional . . . what a concept!
      Thanks for the read and comment

  4. Stephanie Griffin on June 12, 2020 at 8:22 am

    Insightful, timely and just what’s needed by so many right now to start the conversation. Looking forward to future posts!

    • Tom Andriola on June 15, 2020 at 5:20 pm

      Thanks Stephanie. I’m hoping to bring something of value and hoping for a little fun along the way
      Hope all is well, and thank you for the comment

  5. James on June 11, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    Crisis = Opportunities. When almost all higher ed institutions are struggling to determine how this fall would be, Professor Natasha Martin of UCSD ambitiously took COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to collaborate with a team of multidisciplinary people and develop “UCSD Return to Learn” initiative through innovative infectious diseases modeling, effective communications, and coordination during spring quarter. UCSD IT plays an important role to deploy friendly and integrated healthcare technology within weeks. They have succeeded in the initiative’s pilot program and now are planning to expand to full campus for the fall quarter and beyond. UCSD may become the national model for maintaining full in-person instruction by managing COVID-19 innovatively and effectively. Natasha’s approach has really been inspiring me and my team to think strategically about how we can identify and seek the opportunities to create value for our university. One task we did was quickly turned the in-person academic advising works into online by seamlessly and securely integrating Zoom and advising appointment system. The online advising has completely replaced the traditional office visit advising with high satisfaction by both advisors and students during the spring quarter. It proves academic advising can be accomplished online with some advantages that office visit advising can’t achieve.

    • Tom Andriola on June 15, 2020 at 5:21 pm

      James – Thank you for the comment
      Exactly as you explain, in the crisis is the opportunity to rethink the possible and come out in a new, and may times, better place. Kudos to all those who embrace the risk!!
      Take care, T

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