Disruption and Innovation Sparked by Covid-19

The Chaordic Path is the space between chaos and order where innovation, creativity and leadership thrive. To realize the benefits of being in that space, it is possible to thoughtfully and intentionally introduce a little disruption into our organizations, systems or lives. However, what happens when the disruption is not intentionally introduced, but is forced upon us? What happens when that disruption is global, unpredictable, and, downright scary? This is Covid-19 and we have been impacted and disoriented individually and collectively, all around the world.

The Chaordic Path – the same between chaos and order where innovation is possible, steady leadership is essential and emergence happens.

This disruption is shining the light on where systems are breaking down. It is also highlighting opportunity. We are just beginning to discover how fast and cost effectively innovation can be sparked in the midst of this global crisis. Innovations are occurring in all aspects of life and patterns. The benefits are showing up in the manufacturing of medical equipment, regrouping for work, offering education for students, fitness regimes, reaching out to friends and neighbours for new forms of social connection.

The worldview perspectives of “it can’t be done”, “it will never work”, “there are too many barriers” are being replaced by questions: “What can we do?”, “How can we break through barriers?”, “How do we work with what is readily available?” and “How do we do it as quickly as possible?”

This is true for much needed, costly and now scarce life saving equipment. We have seen doctors at the Maggiore Hospital in Parma use a 3D printer to modify scuba masks so they can connect to oxygen. It’s a quick fix Dr. Franceso Minardi which likens to wartime triage.

Dyson, founded by James Dyson, best known for manufacturing vacuum cleaners, designed a new ventilator in 10 days. They are hoping to prototype it in weeks, make it accessible at substantially lower cost than currently available ventilators and distribute it widely.

A 13 year old in Alberta is 3D printing face masks for health care workers.

A Newsweek article noted, “While it’s difficult to predict what this current situation will mean long term, it will undoubtedly force most manufacturers to seriously rethink their operations. According to ABI Research, this includes radically embracing technological investments.”

In Nova Scotia, local company MacKenzie Healthcare Technologies, which was already doing innovative work, is converting their facilities to make face shields for front line workers.

Famous rich people are contributing substantial funds towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Some sports celebrities were early out of the gate, offering to pay the wages of people working in sports arenas. Governments are coming out with financial support packages, one of which looks like basic income support – a concept that has had much speculation about the benefit and lots of discussion about affordability.

Stories abound about how the call to shelter at home or self-isolate is bringing out the best in people as they support their neighbours.

As the impact of this pandemic begins to hit countries with higher levels of poverty and greater concentrations of people in geographic areas where social isolation is an improbability, are there other innovative solutions that will emerge to tackle the spread of the virus?

When the dust settles, how much repatterning will we see in the world? What worldview shifts will we see? What new worldviews will emerge? What leadership practices will have proven effective in living in the disruption of the chaordic path? How will our neighbourhoods be different? Which of our governments will function differently because of what they are learning? Which innovations will become new standards for how we live and work together?

How do we, individually and collectively, embrace the chaordic path for all the richness it has to offer us?