As a global community, we are collectively sharing the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak of a pandemic – and accompanying social isolation – is something that most of us have never previously known. As a result, it is causing us to feel anxious, confused, unsettled and worried for the future.
It is also enabling us to learn and share powerful lessons so that we can respond more effectively to the crisis.
At a big-picture level, the most powerful learning to take away from the COVID-19 crisis is that there is always a potential ‘black swan event’ around the corner – that is, an unpredictable event that has a severe impact. And with today’s global connectivity, that event could again impact on the entire world.
So, what are the other key learnings that we can take away from the current crisis?
Think the unthinkable. The risks associated with black swan events tend to be so big and so rare that many of us cannot contemplate them, much less plan for them. We need to have a mind-set where we are always prepared to think the unthinkable – because the black swan will show up.
Transformation is more important than ever. The COVID-19 crisis has also highlighted the power of technology as a tool to connect people and keep the process of teaching & learning running. So, we should explore how we can use it to anticipate and respond to other black swan events in the future.
We must prepare to change. COVID-19 will force us to change – whether we want to or not. It will make us adopt new ways of learning, shifting the focus from being teacher centric to becoming student centric.
Looking forward with hope. Soon we will look back upon this very, very difficult period as a time of huge social, economic and technological transformation. A transformation that had humans at the center, where technology was deployed at speed and innovation happened at scale.
At an individual level, people’s lives are being completely transformed as they self-isolate and adjust to new ways of living and working. New terms, such as “social distancing,” are entering our vocabulary.
Thanks to technology, millions of us are currently participating in what Time magazine has called “the world’s biggest working/learning-from-home experiment.”
As yet, we cannot conceive quite how our world is going to be transformed by COVID-19. But transformed it will be. This crisis will result in new behaviors, new expectations, new processes and new learning models.
When we come out the other side of the crisis – which one day we will – we will find that this transformative period has served as a catalyst for reinvention.