One of the most valuable lessons this year has taught us is that the life we were living pre-COVID isn’t necessarily the one we are seeking post-COVID. Though we have been longing for life to get ‘back to normal’ since the pandemic hit, there are many parts of the old normal that we would do well to leave behind.
The classrooms of history have been deep in a process of change for decades, but this year has accelerated that transformation more than ever. With the classrooms of the future rapidly becoming those of today, the old idiom has again been proved true: necessity really is the mother of invention.
As events have unfolded this year, the word ‘pivot’ has emerged as a description of the moves necessary in business, society and individual lives to adapt to uncertain times. It is an appropriate word choice to describe these movements, especially as it depicts a motion that adapts its direction, while remaining rooted in one spot. It is clear that in times of crisis, the fundamental need for businesses is the ability to pivot.
While it may certainly seem like a crisis and a pivot of this scale are unique to this year, businesses have been adapting and moving with uncertain times since their beginning.
The need for environmentally sustainable moves in business has been common knowledge for years. However, while many businesses have implemented changes and strategies to address this, many others have been held back by the need to maintain profits and ROI.
‘In my experience, innovation can only come from the bottom. Those closest to the problem are in the best position to solve it. Everyone must be able to experiment, learn, and iterate. Position, obedience and tradition should hold no power.’This statement of Greg Lindon, an instrumental contributor in the design of Amazon’s customer interface, summarises one of innovation’s most crucial keys.
While we celebrate visionary and highly visible innovators such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, it’s important to remember that innovation is not the domain of a ‘ruling elite’.
This year, more than any, we have seen the power of fake news. Politics, climate change, public scandals and the virus which has overwhelmed our year, have revealed a vulnerability in society’s ways of consuming news and information.
My colleague and friend Claire Madden suggests that students today are increasingly ‘brokers of information’ not ‘knowers of content’. This is an important distinction and a dangerous trend as it means students are often very willing to propagate information without discerning its veracity or accuracy. This trend in young people carries just as easily to older generations whose engagement on digital platforms also leaves them vulnerable to misinformation.
In a world of fake news, alternative facts and conspiracy theories, in which each individual learns and shares information on complex and powerful digital platforms, this trend reaches new levels of danger. The ability to discern fact from fiction is fundamental.