Optimism during COVID19

We are now almost 4 months into the COVID 19 pandemic. Some countries have passed the peak and are slowly getting back to the “New Normal”, while others including us in India are still anxiously waiting for the peak. Today I want to summarize the current reality as I have perceived and share my thoughts on what best could be our approach now.

  • The orders have dropped in most of the manufacturing companies to abysmal levels, anywhere between 60% to 25% or normal levels. The drop in the other industries is even more drastic, with the tourism, not travel, getting down close to 0%. However, even the Pharmaceutical industry has seen a drop, with a drop in many drugs used in preventive care.
  • Many customers are not giving the approval for shipping the ready products, especially in project based engineering sector, resulting in an increase in the finished goods inventory. Additionally, due to business continuity challenges faced by vendors and transport interruptions, especially in international logistics, full kitting is an issue. The retail sales, especially in the containment zones has dropped to almost zero.
  • The normal time horizon of the orderbooks has reduced significantly, with just a month in many companies, especially since the last month when the pre COVID19 pipeline has been emptied. The uncertainty being extremely high, I had proposed switching over to a quarterly business plan in my blog “Improving Effectiveness” last month.
  • The companies after downsizing their temporary workforce and cutting down the salaries of permanent workforce, have started downsizing the permanent workforce through productivity improvements, which during normal times was exceptionally difficult to implement, while addressing the adverse effect due to social distancing, staggered shifts, and unplanned long absences.
  • Cash flow has been the main focus in all the companies, with many shifting their fixed costs to variable, using approaches like pay per use, using freelance resources, shifting to SaaS models from buying software licenses, leasing instead of purchasing equipment, reducing the number of working days by working at full, or even improved efficiency.
  • Most of the employees are working from home, either due to the mandatory requirement or due to fear of contracting COVID19. Despite strictly adhering to the social distancing and personal safety guidelines, the employees attending work are even more disturbed with fear and anxiety, especially when one of their colleagues got tested positive for COVID19.

I really cannot believe that we, an intelligent species on this planet, have landed in such a massive crisis. As is in the case of any crisis, the key even here is to stay connected and constantly engaging in a dialogue for the COVID19 wave to pass through. While there are a lot of Didactic Webinar offerings, with a privileged few sharing their thoughts for the masses to receive the wisdom, I believe the time is ripe to awaken our good old Gurukul culture for learning the Socratic way.

Presenting information to the student with materials prepared ahead of time.Challenging the student with questions about their own beliefs and experiences.
Teacher centered: based on the assumption that the teacher is the primary agent in learning.Problem centered: based on the assumption that the student is the primary agent in learning.
Teacher’s role: to impart the results of experience, personal study, and reflection.Teacher’s role: to uncover the question that the answer hides. To be a co-learner.
Primarily deductive: the usual methods are lecture, story telling, use of analogy, and dictum (saying).Primarily inductive: the usual methods discussion, dialogue, and problem solving for lateral thinking.
Test of truth: authority and experience.Test of truth: reason and evidence.
Learning is the reception of ideas, which are in agreement with each other.Learning is a conflict of ideas: a thesis, antithesis, and a synthesis that results in new insights.
Student’s role: to be passive, open, receptive, trusting, and unquestioning, learning to accept other’s judgementStudent’s role: to be active, questioning, critical, and discriminating, learning to trust one’s own judgment (independent thinking).
Evaluation is factual recall of data–commonly in the form of objective tests–right and wrong answers.Evaluation is application of understanding interpretation of data–commonly in an essay, speech, journal, or a review.
Ultimate goal: wisdom viewed as the internalization of truths and beliefs.Ultimate goal: wisdom viewed as an informed ignorance (knowing what one does not know).
Differences Between Didactic and Socratic Methods

Socratic debates on the amazing outcomes at the end of this dark tunnel, at this moment of extreme uncertainty, fear, and anxiety, too will usher in optimism and positivity and enable us jointly to overcome this crisis. Happy reading!

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