Daily, we are overwhelmed by a flood of information about COVID-19 – and unfortunately also with a lot of fake news. In days like these, the digitalization of communication also shows us its true face with all the advantages, but also with all the disadvantages. Indeed, we have created a world which we have networked almost limitlessly. Today, it is no longer a problem to send information in seconds from one location in the world to another location in the world. Moreover, this is a good thing because, in principle, our world is better able than ever to quickly share knowledge, create complex forecasts and make improvements continuously. 150 years ago, there still wasn’t even a systematic form of weather forecasting and today we create forecasts upon the basis of findings obtained from thousands of kilometers away. During these Corona times, I am happy to live in the present and to experience the benefits from all this progress in digitalization.
But we have not learned to qualitatively assess the information which we obtain from limitless networking. In this context, we are still in a simple “Like Society” in which transparent and civilized discourse is not possible – we already had this form of assessment in the 1970s and learned far too little as a society from it. In addition, crises create uncertainty because we were not prepared for this situation – and, truth be told, we could never have been prepared for it. Otherwise, it might not have become a crisis at all. In this context, people react quite differently, but generally not rationally. Some overreact in their panic (“flight”) and already see the “end of the world” while others do nothing (“play dead”) and can, or want to, make no more decisions because they no longer have the required information and/or can no longer utilize the information. Indeed, in times like these, both reactions are not the right choice.
We need a debate which accepts that there can currently be no perfect forecasts, but rather a discourse which enables us to calmly discuss model assumptions and measurement results in order to collectively scrutinize and improve them upon a continuous basis. We need courage to think in new ways and to embrace paths which we have previously never taken. If we search for solutions during the crisis which we also would have selected during normal times, then we will not solve the crisis. Thinking unconventionally is now necessary in order to take a step to the side and thoroughly consider other paths. In so doing, the opinions and ideas of as many people as possible must be taken into consideration because the belief that now only a small group of experts can have the right perspective for a situation that has never occurred before would be absurd – in such a situation, there are namely no experts because this world is new to us all.
Moreover, just as this is valid for the political leaders in our countries, then this also applies to us at the companies. Thus, it is more important than ever to communicate upon a regular basis in order to also obtain as many opinions as possible from the employees. One cannot expect that any Top Manager in the world can now make the right decisions on his own. He needs opinions and information, perspectives but also discourses. We shouldn’t forget that we have at our disposal these days a historically-unique number of people who are networked with each other who can collect and assess the “evidence”. Let’s use these resources at our companies and let’s begin to redefine our companies – the world as we have known it no longer exists and we must now prepare our companies for it.
We didn’t choose all of this. But it is now at hand that we are beginning, even during the Corona Crisis, to create and assess the evidence in order to better predict future challenges and to master them upon this basis. We are also able to rethink organizational structures, to design them differently, and to learn from them in order to ultimately create an organization for us all which is better-suited to human beings and brain-friendlier. Crises are always also an opportunity: Let’s begin to understand this and utilize it!
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