Cultural Context Helps Explain Why World Leaders Have Such Different Responses to Coronavirus Pandemic Data
It’s early-May in South Korea. After months of combatting Covid-19, the streets of Seoul and Busan are coming back to life. Infection rates are down and the government is relaxing social-distancing guidelines. Korean scientists, government, and business leaders are cautiously optimistic. They watch the charts like hawks while the words of Woo-joo Kim (김우주), Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Korea University College of Medicine – the nation’s top public health expert – repeat over and over again in their minds:
“The moment we become arrogant, we will lose. We have to be humble until the end. It’s not the end until it is over.”
Fast forward three weeks. The tides turn again: On May 27th, the number of daily new cases spikes from 19 to 40. The next day it’s 79. Uh oh. We’ve seen this trendline before…
But then something remarkable happens – the spike stalls out. The number of daily new cases starts trending downward: 58.. 39.. 27.. Over the next 45 days (up to the time of this writing), the number of daily new cases in South Korea remains between 17-67.
Meanwhile, in the United States, an entirely different story is unfolding:
The Covid-19 pandemic is exposing all sorts of revelations about life and work in today’s society. Here’s one that’s becoming clearer by the day:
The world is not as “data driven” as we think it is – not even close.
As a co-founder of a data analytics company, I am fascinated by the way Covid-19 is giving the world an unprecedented window into how modern society uses data. Today, we like to think of ourselves as a highly data-driven society, but that is only true in a vanishingly small subset of situations. Most of the time we flounder at best.
Blind Faith in Technology
Over the past few decades, our faith in technology innovation and human ingenuity has skyrocketed. We have long been a society that believes “anything is possible” and the accelerating curve of technological innovation has reinforced this idea over and over again.
In fact, we’ve made somuch progress that technology can sometimes feel like magic: Type a question into a search bar and answers come back. Press a button on your phone and a car shows up. Strap on a wristwatch and get a live stream of data about your health.
Talking K-Pop, Incorta’s Founding Story, and Context-Aware Data With Some of The Most Inquisitive and Insightful Minds in Enterprise Technology
Disclaimer: The quotes below are lightly edited for length and clarity.
Last week, I had the great honor of joining Brian Solis (@briansolis) and Nicole France (@lnfrance) on DisrupTV (@DisrupTVShow) Episode 194 with Vala Afshar (@valaafshar) and Ray Wang (@rwang0) – some of my all-time favorite people in the world of enterprise tech.
This was my first time as a guest on the program and it was a truly unforgettable experience. Here are some key highlights:
Brian Solis – Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce
First up was my dear friend Brian Solis – eight-time best-selling author, international keynote speaker, digital anthropologist, and Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce. He shared insights on enterprise scenario planning in the “novel economy” that is now emerging in the wake of COVID-19, the future of AI in the enterprise, the rise of AI economists, and the importance of developing a more adaptable mindset.
Digital technology and platforms have radically changed the way that people connect in recent decades, both in our personal lives and professionally. Now, as the world confronts a global pandemic, we are relying on these new methods more than ever before.
But while email, SMS, and social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn make it “easy” to find and connect with people, building meaningful relationships is another story altogether.
Yes, digital technology can open the door – but it’s good old fashioned relationship building that gets you invited inside. This may sound obvious to most people nowadays, but I still see it go wrong all the time. There are long-standing social norms and conventions that people seem to forget – or outright disregard – when communicating over digital channels, and that only makes it harder to build lasting relationships.
A few weeks ago, Theo Lau (@psb_dc) – founder of @UnconventionVc and someone who enjoys amazing tiramisu baked by her superhuman kids – tweeted about a couple of LinkedIn connection requests that she flat-out rejected:
At the time, I was thinking a lot about the interplay between words, context, and serendipity – and then it struck me… What a perfect opportunity for an experiment!