I recently watched former British prime minister Tony Blair on Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday morning TV show. Zakaria asked why China and other countries seemed so much more able to innovate systems than the U.S. Blair said he thought the difference was that others had what he called an “efficacy for change”. What a succinct way to put it!
This expression poses a simple question for our government and business systems, and each of us individually. Do we have this capability? Are we too comfortable in our own way of doing things to pivot and pivot faster when needed? Is our democracy too messy to handle huge problems in a timely way?
Not long ago, I was talking with a friend who owns a small business about Covid and the small businesses that are struggling and going under. He had found not only a way to survive, but also a deep understanding of how he wants to go forward in the future. He is very concerned about those who are struggling and not able to survive. I said it took creativity and innovation to survive a pandemic, and used as an example someone I know who has weathered it quite creatively. His response was very interesting: he said that it takes an open mind and a certain amount of different life experiences to have that kind of imagination. WOW!
All the pundits and experts are saying we are heading for a rapidly changing world and the U.S. is not leading the way. We are falling behind. The country that sent men to the moon and brought them back safely can’t seem to devise an effective national virus testing system, for example.
So how do we become adaptable to change? What do we need to change in ourselves to be able to pivot faster?
My friend’s insightful comment suggests that we need to open our minds and open our world! One way to do this is to read about international news in-depth. The news in the U.S. is now all about the president, positive or negative, instead of the successes and innovations happening here and abroad. How about local conversations? Are they mostly about whether to wear a mask or not? Our thinking has become about self-interest instead of what is new or useful. I know we have one crisis after another, either from climate change or politics or health, but have we become too insular to be creative and free our imagination?
Food for thought! I suggest thinking of all the ways you can open your mind and world by talking with people to whom you don’t normally talk, trying new foods, reading new publications, joining new organizations, watching movies and programs that are different from the norm and, when Covid is gone, traveling to new destinations.