Note — May 03, 2020

Not Fit for This Future

Aarathi Krishnan, who’s worked in humanitarian and development aid for almost two decades, looks at the multiple failures of humanity brought to light by this pandemic. Krishnan looks not to specific countries but to the “international organisations that are entrusted with the responsibilities of humanitarian and development work.” A similar diagnostic to what many countries have found with their health system or pandemic preparedness: repeated cuts and lack of longterm vision have rendered these systems brittle and unable to respond quickly and efficiently. They aren’t fit for today, much less for the challenges to come.

Our systems, our societies, our actions and behaviours — were a million wounds in a structural ecosystem that was rupturing at its sides. And the system has now blown wide open — revealing to our collective shame — the multitudes of ways, in which we have all failed. […]

To achieve this legitimacy, to be the institutions we need them to be — requires not just looking at these new normals merely as exogenous changes but to also consider how the institutions themselves need to transform internally in order to meet these new frontiers. […]

Institutions need to evolve into emergent, learning ecosystems that recognise that the status quo is a shaky terrain, and that work to bring the innovations and experimentation already happening on the periphery of their systems into the core. Internal foresight capabilities, innovation, radical inclusion, adaptive strategy and learnings, is pivotal so that efforts at responding to what is emerging can be done in agility, and not in ways that hinder. […]

Interrogating what has to die so that the right thing can live in institutional redesign, and how to get it to gracefully exit as quickly as possible has to become a common question we ask.