Unless Leaders have the Courage to Learn, there is Little Hope for the Future
Looking back two years after the start of Covid-19, all that transpired and continues to unfold, it is time to learn from the experience. The American philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey is quoted as saying: “We do not learn from experience; we learn from reflecting on experience.” This is a professional facilitator’s mantra. Writing out loud about this topic risks a blast of differing opinions but the alternative is untenable.
The level of fear and polarization is unsustainable from a health and economic point of view.
More issues like Covid-19 will pop up. Decision makers at every level might as well be better prepared to handle them. What can we learn from the decisions and dynamics initiated by the sudden interruption to life at work and home?
The reaction to Covid-19 is characterized by decision-making that failed to recognize the complexity of the issue. Positions were not loosely held but leaned toward becoming more rigidly fixed as time went on, rather than adapting to new information as it arose.
It was as if reality was to conform to the kind of thinking being applied. But that’s not how complex issues work.
Linear decision-making is easy. You focus on the symptoms and expect predictable results using cause and effect logic (if this…. then that….). But when a system-wide interruption of the scale of a global pandemic takes place, a shift in decision-making is imperative. Did that happen? Rarely and then only within the confines of the rare CEO’s office where instead of firing employees to pay shareholders and themselves — the strategy of too many companies — simply asking employees to help think through a beneficial and optimized response could elicit creative and critical thinking. Trust, regardless of the outcome, would be enhanced. The opportunity was available to become more aware of what underlying needs motivated the response personally and, collectively, the dynamics created out of each uncertainty.
From a decision-making point of view, the consequences of treating a complex issue as if it were simple, generate a level of polarization and disintegration that feels freakily new. In response to the size of the Covid interruption, companies tend to rely on old strategies and assumptions behind…