Life these days seems to drag on with little relief in sight. Some aspects of the Covid-19 virus situation seem to be leveling off...in some places as is grows in others. The world is not looking to America for solutions as it has in the past, We seem to be foundering here in search of the path. Since this began, Mr. Trump has denied its importance; then talked of shutting the country down. He has said hat there is enough testing for everyone, when the experts and doctors wonder where it is because they don't have it. Most recently, the president has used social media for his message to "liberate" the states from the shut down only to encourage states that are following his message to reconsider and take it slowly.
I am not ranting about the political situation. I am using it as the foundation for my thoughts today. Some problems are simple and their solutions are obvious to most reasonably intelligent people. You collect the data, ID the problem, implement the solution and it works. This is the best practices approach. It works when you have all the data and experience, and essentially know that it works. Done! Relative to Covid-19 the simple solution would be staying home with no outside-world contact. That might be perfect if it were something we could do for a few days or a week. But it's not enough.
The problem is more complicated. Creating tests for the Covid-19 virus or finding some immunization for it would fall into this complicated category. The data are more varied and need analysis by experts before a solution can be found. This is the good practices approach. Just having experts, however, doesn't really fix things. Experts disagree with competing opinions and analyses of the data. This could work but it takes time. Most vaccines take years to create, test, and implement. That's a problem. The simple stay-at-home solution has fallen far short. People are still at home. Companies have shut down. Schools are empty. Airlines are doing 2% of the business they were before the virus. Restaurants are take-out only. Delivery companies and online venders are swamped and unable to cope with the demand. The entire world market is disrupted and the investment marketplace is all over the place. No one alive or dead has ever seen anything like this.
The problem now moves to the complex level. Simple solutions are inadequate beyond a certain point. There are no experts at this level of the problem, although they are critical to the process. Problems are emergent. Consequently, it is the emergent practices approach. It is much like touching one of Caulder's mobiles like the image at the top of this blog post. No matter which piece you touch, all of the others eventually move. The timing, direction and magnitude of the movement is nearly impossible to predict. Now, imagine millions (or billions) of floating pieces; each representing a person, company, organization, community group, etc.; and each piece attached to one or more of the others. That is what our world looks like today. The systems of relationships (our mobiles) we have built at our jobs, in our communities, and within our families and circles of friends have been perturbed (disrupted) by our attempts to survive Covid-19. At this complex level we probe around, see what happens, and then respond.
But that doesn't even get at the whole problem. There is so much going on, it is beyond complex; it is chaos. Anxiety, fear, anger, compassion, protectionism, greed, etc. are all in play at once. There is not enough data for the experts to analyze. There are no safe ways to poke around looking for safe ways to deal with this in sufficient magnitude. We don't have the luxury of time for safe testing of potential solutions; too much is happening all at once and more immediate action must be taken (At least that is the assumption we are making based on the data we have and the expert opinions available). So, we must act, see what happens, and then decide on the next steps. This is the novel practices approach. The potential for error is high. The experience of frustration in each of us is nearly guaranteed.
We need to keep our heads in the game. We need to look at what is working in other places and then consider if those things will work for us. Not all solutions are reproducible in other venues. For me, STAMINA is the word of the day (week, months...).