Mapping Effective Covid-19 Engagement: Four Responses to the Challenge
Ultimately, the foundation of appreciation comes with the honoring our own wisdom. If we fail to trust our own judgement, then we will have a hard time trusting the judgement of other people—especially our formally appointed leaders. The best way in which to build trust in our own Wisdom is to create and test this Wisdom in community. As Ken and Mary Gergen (2004) have noted, there is an important source of wisdom to be constructed in the collaborative dialogue in which members of a community might engage. By sharing our wisdom with that to be found among those who offer alternative perspectives and come to the dialogue with differing expertise, we can create a collective wisdom that will be of as much value and prove to be as valid as that offered by the wisest of formal leaders and the most knowledgeable researcher or scholar.
A Map of Courage: The Ruby Red Response
I turn now to leadership and virus-response strategies that focuses on courage. This is a response style that emphasizes a direct and immediate attack on the virus. This active engagement with the virus is of great value, given that the COVID-19 virus is impacting all societies right now and its spread is leading to many deaths and the collapse of many economies. There is no time to lose. We must act decisively and collectively to reduce and eventually eliminate this invading enemy. This is not an occasion to stop and reflect on the complex and unpredictable processes so that we get our response “right.” We might get it right—but too late. The damage will have already been done, and we will be able to take little pride in our inaction.
We call this a Ruby Red response because it resembles the nature and function of a glowing fire—providing immediate energy. As with a burning fire, resources are being consumed to generate energy. In the present case, this energy is being generated on behalf of the war being waged against the virus. There is no room for time-wasting pondering or data collection. The feeble light of illumination (Golden Yellow) is not sufficient to defeat the powerful viral enemy. We need to the intensity of a Ruby Red fire to burn and destroy the pandemic enemy. Heat and action are required—not just knowledge and light.
Analysis-paralysis is unacceptable when a powerful and persistent enemy such as the COVID-19 virus is invading our communities. Careful consideration is ultimately not compassionate if it delays the work to be done (Bergquist, 2020). This is a matter of close, intimate engagement with the enemy. We must think fast (Kahneman, 2013) and learn immediately from our actions. As the noted social psychologist, Kurt Lewin and his associates (Lippitt, Watson and Westley, 1958), have noted we learn about a system by giving it a kick (initiating a change). The active practitioner, as exemplified by Lewin in his own life and work (Marrow, 1969) embraces a learning-in-action model.