The bird’s eye view immerses us in a world of possibility thinking informed by a broad view of spatial interrelationships. As I write this piece with an aerial view, I appreciate just how roofs can reveal the amazing visual impact borne of creative architecture. This inspiration has triggered yet another insightful message for this weekend of reflection.
Reflections on the Big Agenda
Facing the second weekend of reckoning in Kenya, the readers of #ImpactBorderlessDigital series are expectant of another hopeful start with reassuring weekend reflections. The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus this weekend has risen to over 250 000 globally with more than 10 000 deaths. In Kenya, the confirmed cases have reached seven, up from one last weekend. The pandemic has challenged all governments to rethink their big agenda. The emerging reality is that it is noble and novel to now focus on four pillars as the universal creed of sustainable progress and three analogies of a healthy body.
These four timeless pillars are any good leader’s creed for national transformation and they remain truth, understanding, instruction, and wisdom. The following three components of a healthy body unveil the critical credo that should guide national development policy: the brain, the blood, and the nervous system.
From the Viewpoint of Truth
Truth is a liberating elixir which demands unwavering commitment to the exploration of authenticity and transforms the committed explorer. As such, to us as ordinary mortals, truth is progressive, not terminal. The implication is that what we knew last week about coronavirus may change next week as new evidence rolls in.
From the Viewpoint of Understanding
Understanding exposes the value of truth and celebrates the power of wisdom, a critical link in the chain of societal transformation. Getting people to understand the revealed risk factors of contracting coronavirus is the limiting friction leaders must seek ways of overcoming — against the grain of established traditions and customs that work in opposition.
From the Viewpoint of Instruction
Unlike instructions, which are orders from institutions of authority, instruction — an uncountable noun, speaks to education. Sound education is the source of the knowledge-led influence progressive leaders use to empower their nations. The desired breakthrough innovation in medicine in these trying times relies on sound research and hence quality education.
From the Viewpoint of Wisdom
Wisdom is a leader’s map for achieving effective practical solutions by selectively sieving through the ever-expanding sea of knowledge and experience to scoop meaningful and rightful applications befitting the moment. Like a surveyor’s map, wisdom summons selective abstraction to suit a given scale. Solomon’s wise decision settled the case of the contested child but it may not befit a case of a different scale with different actors. Doesn’t this explain why knowledge is so abundant but wisdom remains so rare? What will you urge your leader to decide for your nation at scale in the face of this disruptive, distractive, destructive and distancing COVID-19 pandemic?
The Brain Analogy
As critical as the brain is to the body, so critical is human capital to the prosperity of a nation. This is a wakeup call to governments to invest in, and incentivise, knowledge systems and thought leadership.
The Blood Analogy
Blood must flow normally as a requirement for nourishing the body to stay healthy. Similarly, investing in the key data and information we need to produce reliable knowledge is not an option in the fight against borderless global threats such as pandemics. Effective deployment of automation and artificial intelligence to fight similar threats relies on big data and sound information systems.
The Nervous System Analogy
The body is networked in a terrific manner for effective response and coordination. The nervous system is critical in this respect. Yes, we may be 99% like some primates in our DNA but the superior communication channels in our nervous system must be making the astronomical difference.
COVID-19 has given a new strategic significance to the Internet-based hyperconnectivity of our world as a global village. Working and teaching remotely for performance without physical presence is now a compelling consideration for work policies of the present and future. The era of collaborative telepresence is not fiction anymore. What this implies for the future of education and work can only portend unprecedented cultural changes and fascination to the new generation of digital natives. The millennials, Generation Z, Generation Alpha… , now is the time to claim your glory of place and prove your native grace to be great.
As you reflect on the lockdown coronavirus has imposed on nations this weekend, ponder these insights and advise your leaders and successors appropriately.
Nashon, a geospatial expert, lecturer and trained policy analyst applies dynamic models to complex adaptive systems. He is a youth mentor on career development and the founder of Impact Borderless Digital.