Surviving This Pandemic Isn’t Enough

Stimulated by Gian Segato ‘Why write’: I set out to write about what I want to learn today or what do I want to make sense of my feelings about the curent situation today?

There is no going back. Normal, from here on out, is the world we’ll make together. This virus can turn us against one another. We all need to care for ourselves, and for each other. – Such a beautiful piece by ⁦@mthomps@TheAtlantic

Matt Thompson

“the willingness to respond creatively to fear, without trying to eradicate the source of the fear”

We need to remake the world we left behind. We need to meet the challenge of occupying resilience; to have agency to affect the new normal. Matt writes of the idea of nuturing each sign of hope for the future as a ‘seedling’. 

What are we experiencing; what am I experiencing?

“The cause is neither our screen time, I suspect nor our dramatic circumstances. It’s their combination defies our desire. Desire for the way we were, that is and for each other. There is a word for the physically taxing experience of defied desire. That word is grief”

We are all Zoombies now, but it has to stop: Gianpiero Petriglieri Financial Times 14th May 2020

In this piece Gianpiero refers to Bill Cornell with this phrase “it makes a big difference if we choose to work together online or if we are forced to”

A way of helping to understand and manage our feelings on the change and the grief  is to look at the curve illustrated below (taken from John Maeda’s

Where are you on this curve? How do you join the smiley #yes we can?

Screenshot 2020-05-15 15.45.02

Building individual and organisational resilience is a critical enabler for #yes we can:

Resilience can be described as the sum of Creativity and Adaptation but I think that we need to add another ingredient; elasticity


Adaptability is an ancestral distinction of human intelligence, but today’s distinct variations in rhythm call for something stronger: elasticity. The by-product
of adaptability + acceleration, elasticity is the ability to negotiate change and innovation without letting them interfere excessively with one’s own rhythms and goals. It means being able to embrace progress, understanding how to make it our own. 

Paola Antonelli, New York, 20089 

Elasticity as ‘adaptability + acceleration’ is an inspired concept because it implies shape deformation in response to external conditions without a change in material composition. Over time the elastic object may deform its shape permanently as it repeatedly stretches and adapts, but the molecular composition remains intact. If one makes the analogy between molecular composition and an individual’s rhythms and goals (motivations), this implies that a designer can negotiate extreme change by adapting to situations and problems at hand, and adapt more quickly over time without losing his or her individual point of view and inherent motivations. One can then extend this metaphor to imagine that significant changes in a creative individual’s goals and motivations do occur as part of the natural process of evolution, but at a different pace—a pace that is associated with resistance. The key is the concept of adaptability + acceleration, but with resistance. 

This species—the designer—inhabits an environment where expertise and imagination interact to shape undercurrents of creativity. But expertise, creative dexterity, imagination, and elasticity, without agency (the ability to have an impact on the world) only suggest adaptability of the individual to this fluid and topologically complex environment. The capacity to adapt and act to shape circumstances in this environment is critical. Elasticity of the individual creates greater resilience for the entire species, as an ensemble of individuals, but only when agency affects change in the ensemble’s network of rules, norms, relationships, and practices.

So here we bring in the term innovation. Innovation is a bi-product of agency, expertise, creative dexterity, imagination, and elasticity. While creativity is the use of imagination to transcend traditional ideas, processes, objects and so on, to make new ones of these, innovation is about giving these things new meanings that lead to changes in the system. Because resilience of the entire species depends upon innovation, in a time of perpetual change, we need to understand that innovation is the key nutrient, as well as product, of the ecosystem. 

Nurturing ‘seedlings of hope’:

Putting in the seed-Robert Frost

You come to fetch me from my work to-night 
When supper’s on the table, and we’ll see 
If I can leave off burying the white 
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree. 
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite, 
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;) 
And go along with you ere you lose sight 
Of what you came for and become like me, 
Slave to a springtime passion for the earth. 
How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed 
On through the watching for that early birth 
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed, 
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes 
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.


Categorized as Post

By Matthew Payne

Working to make the most of the resources available to others to enable them to be more successful. Using facilitative leadership and process management to get things done, and really make a difference! Engaging with individuals and teams in both the public and private sectors.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: