NOTE: This piece was previously published in the Daily Graphic – Ghana’s leading newspaper, during the early lockdown phase in Ghana amidst the pandemic…
There’s no better time in human history to test this statement by Rahm Emanuel (Barack Obama’s first Chief of Staff) than now. But I’m ‘gonna’ crank it up a notch, into a Crises Handling (not Management) issue, by grabbing the bull by the balls in the midst of this Covid-19 crises.
Evolution and the theory of natural selection dictates that lifeforms that fail to adapt to drastic changes in their environment perish. Humanity has been thru that before.
Whiles this covid cloud is still hovering above our roofs and haunting us into our safe spaces, maybe now (not after), now is a good time to adjust to covid settings and dominate it! Well intentioned opinion leaders may say everything to calm our nerves, but the verdict is out there that this ghost that’s prowling our hoods ain’t retreating any time soon (that we can ascertain). So we either adjust fast enough to thrive whiles it’s still snarling at us, or remain in hiding till it’s gone – with droves of us along with it, in unfathomable economic doldrums. @tm, I’m not even concerned with overcoming the crises, “flattening the curve” or any draconian intervention yet. I’m all about flourishing within it.
Good thing is, in this particular case, beyond thriving within the crises, this one comes bearing gifts: Covid19 has jolted Planet Earth into a futuristic mode in a way that future-themed Hollywood movies never managed to make us imitate with such immediacy. We have always known, but were slow to conform to the hard facts:
That not all movements are necessary; that administrative work and customer care can be done from home; that pay systems and all banking require neither concrete structures, nor physical presence; that all manner of so-called ‘important’ meetings and workshops can be held remotely. That wealth can be made in moderation and shared with humane considerations; and inequality can be overcome instantaneously. We’ve known these all along, yet we’ve been stiff-necked in admission, let alone adjusting to embrace them as the modus operandi of our working lives.
But now, by courtesy of covid19, we know: that transportation is over-estimated, and can be done-without most of the time; that WFH (working from home) isn’t a luxury, but a feasible necessity); that “the gathering of the saints” doesn’t have to be physical. And that “the saints” can take up deeper social welfare responsibilities in their immediate neighborhoods; that not all visits to health posts are essential. Some ailments can stay put without immediate clinical attention; that 25 members can carry out a funeral without all the fanfare. That OPEC Greed can be spat at. That materialism is but an illusion.
So why not go ahead and institutionalize ‘em now? Suddenly, a good chunk of Change Management principles have been rendered totally dispensable.
At the moment, nations seem to be playing peek-a-boo with this stealthy zombie, in a “let’s-hide-for-a-while-and-see what-happens-in-the-coming-weeks” mode. That, admittedly, is inevitable. However, while in hiding, we must quickly whip-up our work systems and social structures to fit into these covid settings right away?
Defeatist as it may seem, we must admit that indeed, more productive and progressive approaches to attaining a Decent work-life balance are applicable now; not in some ‘near’ future. Not after covid19. Right now. Only the brave think on their feet amidst crises. This is our “chooboi” moment to the point that, even if the WHO’s next advisory asks us to stop breathing, this must be our “my head is under water, but I’m breathing fine” moment. We are “the” humans, not covid19! Those of the monolithic (Abrahamic) faiths, dominating the earth by any means necessary must be a divine assignment. As in Japanese jujutsu combat, here’s an opportunity to take advantage of the adversary’s strength to our ultimate benefit.
And in an inevitable segue, after the toxic cloud has passed, nations may opt for selective “lockdown” periods on their calendar, to allow Nature to breath – some Ghanaian cultures already have such ritualistic ‘break’ periods that can be institutionalized and up-scaled.
The game plan is to keep the enemy close by dragging her into our tent, pissing out; not the other way ‘round. And that must not be a responsibility for just Presidencies. It is for CEOs, heads of organisations and groups to “cease the moment” this instant! View covid19 as our generation’s ultimate “kumfo-dumfo”, and exploit its “dumfo” opportunities whiles she’s right here with us!
Written by Earl Ankrah