Using What We’ve Learned from the Pandemic to Succeed in the Future

As terrible as the pandemic has been, it has also provided some very valuable insights. In fact, no organization should get through the pandemic without a comprehensive post-mortem on what worked, didn’t work, could have been done differently, and was learned through the entire process. In what ways is the organization stronger? What fault lines were revealed? What are the greatest risks and opportunities going forward? What problems weren’t fixed or are worse? At the very least, a key responsibility of organizational leaders at this point is to carefully inventory everything they have done differently as a result of the pandemic, then assess what changes and interventions should be preserved and potentially optimized going forward. This includes processes and procedures, policies, applications of technology & automation, and ways of thinking and being. It is strategic, operational, and cultural.

One of the most interesting takeaways from the COVID crisis is the extent to which things that many believed were simply not possible beforehand became possible! The pandemic demonstrated the power of context on perspective (and proved that we have likely overstated the significance of time and place). Many people became less risk-averse and more open to experimentation. Many of us also embraced the notion of “good enough” relative to the alternative. We also discovered that, when time is of the essence, we can make decisions much more quickly than we ever did in the past. This may be a watershed for higher education in particular, which has historically been deeply risk-averse and unable to act quickly and nimbly.

A silver lining of the pandemic is not only the realization that some things, both in terms of services and educational delivery, that we previously did not think were possible or advisable, are not only possible, but in many cases have proven advantageous and even preferable. As institutions begin to assess whether or not a change/intervention merits preservation in the next normal, there are multiple potential criteria for such an evaluation. These include outcomes like convenience, time, accessibility, cost & efficiency, efficacy, accuracy, quality, ancillary benefits, and others. If you’d like a free consult on how to formulate and implement such an assessment reach out to us at the Transformation Collaborative™ and we’ll lend a hand.

Lastly, we also need to be cautious about misconstruing the nature of the interventions we have made during the pandemic. The vast majority of change has been incremental and transactional and the product of crisis management rather than genuine reinvention. We have achieved phenomenal things in the face of unprecedented challenges during the pandemic, but we also need to guard against misunderstanding the extent to which what we’ve embraced is a change in how we do something, than changing the something itself. For example, shifting financial aid to an online, self-service modality might be convenient, faster, cheaper, and preferable, but it doesn’t change or improve anything about the tuition model or how students pay for school!

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