Covid -19: Opportunities presented by the key challenges of complexity, uncertainty and communication

Covid-19 – not managed with equal dexterity globally. It is a complex problem. Key challenges, consequences and opportunities relate to three interrelated areas: • Key Challenges: o Complex problem: § Multiple interacting factors, some unidentified – no simple chain of causality. § Small change to single factor – significant change in outcomes. § Problematic to identify and manage. § Prone to cognitive bias § Probabilistic o Uncertainty: § Hallmark of complexity. § Bertrand Russell – ‘The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice’… o Communication: § Communicating complexity, uncertainty and risk is testing. • Consequences: o Complexity: § Nature of the problem – delayed identification. § Super-specialists – conflict of assumptions, method, and language. § Multiple interpretations of evidence. § Requires constant reappraisal of evidence and iterations of strategy. § Evidence – shines a light but ‘the science’ cannot lead. o Uncertainty: § Simplistic solutions e.g., handwashing for a respiratory virus. § Repetition of mistakes, Einstein – …’The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results’. § Spectrum of potential ‘solutions’. o Communication: § Lack of certainty – impression of incompetence. § Loss of trust. • Opportunities o Identify and accept complexity and uncertainty. o Education: § Disruption to education – opportunity to review approach and content. § Critical thinking: o Exploration of assumptions. o Unpicking perspectives, theories, evidence, and values. o Training – Government, public bodies, and media: § Develop training package. § Framework to: • Identify and manage complex problems. • Examine related evidence e.g. lessons learnt from SARS and MERS. • Overview imperative. § Communication – between specialists, policy makers and the public. o Application of approach to other complex issues.:§ Public health, social care and town centres§




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