COVID-19: Life will never be the same
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.