A Cynefin look at covid19: Can Corona be stopped or must it be controlled?

Author: Manu Steens

In this blog I write my personal idea, not that of any organization.

A first reading for inspiration from the Cynefin framework in the booklet “The Cynefin-Book – An introduction to complexity and the Cynefin framework” gives inspiration to think about the crisis of covid19.

Let me first explain the Cynefin framework itself, the theoretical framework that tries to create an order in types of systems, such as the world.

A first division is made between ordered systems and un-ordered systems .

An ordered system is strongly bounded, the behavior is very predictable. The causality is clear from experience, or is based on a virtuous analysis. The first case is a simple system , the second a complicated (but understandable) system .

We cannot establish causality in an un-ordered system. Some of these systems are stable, where the boundaries evolve over time, and so does the behavior. This evolution occurs through the interaction of its components. Evolution cannot therefore be called situational (i.e. caused purely by external factors) but dispositional: caused by internal, often unknown and changeable, dependencies and interactions. Thus, they are predestined to evolve in a predestined direction. But causality can only be proven retrospectively (in hindsight). These stable systems are the complex systems .

But some systems are not stable, they have little or no limitations or limitations, the behavior is or seems random. These are chaotic systems.

Finally, there are the systems that we have yet to classify, and those are the disturbed systems: we don’t know what they are yet.

The simple systems, we know them: “been there, done that”. They are known knowns. An unambiguous solution is possible for an unambiguous problem. The solution is given by SCR: sense, categorise, respond. We have best practices.

We no longer know what complicated systems are. They are known unknowns. But we can analyze it in great detail and then we can predict things about it. The approach is then SAR: sense, analysis and respond. We have good practices.

The complex systems are those of unkown unknowns. We need to conduct some experiments and hope they will guide us in the right direction. There are many hypotheses, without being able to call them wrong or right. So the approach is PSR: probe, sense and respond. Here we have newly emerging practices.

And the chaotic systems are the unknowable unknowns. The system requires immediate action, but we have no idea what the appropriate actions are. So we tackle it with ASR: act (do something), sense and respond. Here we have new but perhaps transient practices because they may only be usable once.

Finally, the desturbed systems, which we have yet to explore to classify them.

If a situation comes to us, the advice is: first differentiate which type of system it is. If we don’t know anything about it, or it is ‘forgotten’ matter and it seems something completely new, it is better to explore it first, bearing in mind that it can be a worst case system, so according to ordered or un-ordered systems a complicated or chaotic situation. If we do this, we avoid the risk of oversimplification in advance.

How does this fit with Covid19?

It was known from the first investigations that it was a corona-like virus. There was some experience with that. As a result, it appeared to be an ordered system. It soon became clear, however, that this particular corona was not as well known as originally thought. It was not a “simple cold”. The world with covid19 thus quickly became an un-ordered system from an ordered system. So we had to act quickly. In Philippe De Backer’s book “En nu is het oorlog” (“And now it’s war”) it appears that the ASR approach was taken very quickly. And that was a good thing. The first wave was systematically dealt with severely in a radical way. There was a lockdown, and the wave was contained. An almost second wave was tackled by the province of Antwerp with strict measures, and was also suppressed. So fast, in fact, that many dared to ask why it was necessary. For a while it seemed that the world under covid19 would become a complex system or even a complicated and ordered system. Been there done that? Existing techniques yielded new weapons: several types of vaccines saw the light of day. There was talk of “the light at the end of the tunnel”. Freedom was in sight. A chaotic system would be pushed back by science to a complicated system, where vaccinations are at the heart of it.

And a new danger threatens the battlefield: “groupthink”. By estimating it, it can be prevented.

Groupthink is an issue typical of complicated systems. Notwithstanding a great truth that lies behind the wisdom of the masses, as an average of a group of experts in the field. But then with standpoints that first make them independent of each other. This is to prevent them from influencing each other (too much). It is difficult to do this day-to-day, so an effective approach is needed against it, as well as to improve the scanning of information. To tackle this issue, it is best to involve different groups of experts, each from different areas of expertise, so that they can keep a ‘look of wonder’ about the other areas of expertise.

There are no stupid questions in such a group. But one must ask them. A question could concern the composition of the GEMS itself. After all, in addition to infectiologists, virologists and biostatisticians, are anthropologists, sociologists, behavioral experts, psychologists and weather experts also needed in an advisory body? The question occurred to me for two reasons.

  1. The disease always finds a way out in a new variant with which, when we return from a complicated system that seemed ordered thanks to the vaccines, to a chaotic system, which seems un-ordered by the arrival of a new deadly variant, but above all:
  2. The disease attacks through the people who are not ill at the time of the attack, but through their behaviors and habits threaten to expose themselves to the disease. The difference in people’s behavior during the different seasons determines the contacts they make. These behaviors thus form the channels through which the disease can spread.

Knowing this behavior of the different target groups with a sufficiently small resolution with regard to the evolution in previous disease waves could provide better parameters for statistical models concerning those target groups and between them. Even though they can never be seen as a model with a purely predictive value, it could provide an insight into the behavior of the past, so that more refined expectations can be created for the nearest future.

If these experts would already cooperate in the proposals and advice of an advisory body, this is not clear: I never see them in the news reports. I never hear any mention of their contributions.

Since the system on which a chaotic system must be dealt with is one by the acronym ASR, we can never assume that we know what is going to happen, even with the most sophisticated statistical models available at the moment. Therefore, as long as someone can make a coherent argument, their idea is valuable.

But with that comes the question: where does such a model lead? What will the approach to the current crisis lead to? Are they trying to beat the disease? Stop the spread? Or does it make more sense to work with a model in which one tries to control the disease?

Essential in a controlling mechanism is that one does not only look at the direct statistical measurements such as the Rt value, the number of sick people in the hospitals, the number of sick people in the ICU, the number of cases in the schools and the like. And that per province and over time. These are ‘direct’ indicators , the figures that we want low, except for the vaccination rates, which they want to see rise. By directly influencing behaviour.

If one accepts that corona will not just be defeated, but that we will have to serve a time in this prison called Earth, until the disease has adapted itself to its host, one could start in the fringe with ‘indirect’ indicators. By this I mean indicators with which one can indirectly influence people’s behavior, for which we have to rely on the expertise of anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, together with weather experts and the experiences of the authorities with, among other things, tourism. One such indicator that one could track could be a “net good behavior promoter score”. One might take such a philosophy from a firm like Apple, which measures a “net promoter score” (NPS) to determine satisfaction from the customer’s perspective.

For Covid19, this means that with such an indirect measurement one could know the involvement within the different target groups, which can indirectly measure the effectiveness of the press conferences. After some time, one can plot these numbers in an evolution, and see how it evolves, but also how it compares to the infections in the different target groups. By also targeting these indirect indicators, in addition to an attempt to stop the disease, an attempt could also be made to rather control the disease than directly to stop it. And that until the virus has previously been weakened for its host, or until a vaccination technique emerges that allows for a single vaccination that offers lifelong protection if that might be possible. The additional advantage of such a controlling effect could be that people are prepared for the idea of ​​a one-time vaccination, which can then be more readily accepted.

Even if it has not been proven that such an approach would work in a short period of time, I think that in addition to trying to stop the crisis, we should also create every opportunity to try to control the crisis. But it is a lot of trying with ‘can’ and ‘could’ and ‘maybe’ one after the other. This approach would mean a radically different and additional approach to the traditional approach, in which one tries to reduce an un-ordered system to an ordered system on the basis of purely rational arguments. With which one tries to work on the behavior of the ‘homo rationalis’. With an indirect approach one can also work on those target groups where one has more to do with the ‘homo irrationalis’.

How to assess a measure of Business Continuity Management and Risk Management?

Author: Manu Steens

Within Risk Management and Business Continuity Management, each management discipline does it in its own way, risks and uncertainties are assessed in order to have more certainty in a VUCA world on the success or survival of the own organization.

The more or less succinct view on the way of working is that measures are linked to threats via an assessment. (I’m deliberately limiting risks to threats here, so as not to lose focus on the story, while perhaps what follows may be partly true or analogous to opportunities.)

These measures cost money and effort and must therefore be accountable. Until now I got only two answers in literature and at conferences:

  • Look at the costs versus benefits: if the prevention or mitigation costs more than the damage when the risk manifests itself, it is not worth the effort.
  • Look at the estimate of the residual risk, if that has not decreased enough in your opinion, it is not a good measure. The difference between the original risk and the risk after the measure must therefore be sufficiently large.

However, that won’t take you very far if you want to substantiate an argument as a process manager against a risk manager or business continuity manager who in turn has to discuss it with the board of directors or the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) or in the C-suite.

What’s more, a process manager usually wants hands-on arguments, while a board member or CxO wants more strategic arguments. And then the principle comes into play: to give what is owed to them. Operational and strategic criteria are therefore needed with which to assess each measure.

Without wishing to be exhaustive in the criteria, nor the points for attention that may go with them, I would like to outline a possibility here by proposing such criteria. Note that each criteria can be viewed and further entered and supplemented by those organizations that want to use it. The examples of implementation are purely illustrative and certainly not exhaustive.

As a risk manager or as a business continuity manager, review the measure operationally with the process manager on the following criteria (where applicable):

  • Reliability (For example, if a part is out, there is a backup of processes, people, redundant structure of organization, infrastructure, …)
  • Maintainability (e.g. the building, its equipment, its processes, education and training, …)
  • Availability (e.g. emergency number, network, realizations, independence, visibility…)
  • Feasibility (For example, can it be organized? What legal structure is needed, required finances, required manpower,…)

As a risk manager or as a business continuity manager, look at the measure strategically with the higher manager (CRO, …) on the following criteria (where applicable):

  • Proportionality (Especially: Is a cost benefit evaluation possible, not only with return on investment (ROI) but especially with value on investment (VOI)? ‘More need can be met with the required money in another way than this’, would mean that this is disproportional; what kind of evaluation models are needed for that?)
  • Prudence (For example, what is a life worth? There is no rule of maximum caution here, I think, rather the question whether you can be more careful within budgets?)
  • Effectiveness (Among other things, are the benefits great in the cost-benefit analysis? Is the information flow between the right players? Is there an eye for quality by mapping the risks? Is the organization supportive of the operational and strategic requirements? Does it meet targets in time (for predictable crises to occur) to be able to perform exercises to create preparedness for future crises?)
  • Efficiency (Among other things, is the cost small in the cost-benefit analysis? Is the information flow smooth? Is there a will to collaborate within the networks, and is this with a subsidiary decision-making authority (which is a quality requirement)? Can the organization be reorganized flexibly, and is there a smooth collaboration with government? Are milestones for the plans met in a timely manner?)

Using such a well-thought-out framework of argumentation to substantiate the correctness of a measure, it can help to prevent misunderstandings or arbitrariness when formulating measures to be implemented.

If it has then been established in a subsidiary way at both the operational level and the strategic level that the measure makes sense, it may be safer to implement the measure for all parties, as a justification for a possible audit afterwards if things still go wrong later.

However, although there are the concepts of operational and strategic crisis management, it is not clear to me whether this way of working can be implemented in crisis management. This may be possible in the case of project operation in the aftercare phase. But that in itself may be an idea for others to check.

Becoming future proof – how do you do that? Points of attention.

Author: Manu Steens

Inspired by ‘Ready or not’ by Tom Palmaerts.

‘Future proof’ also means being antifragile and resilient. Does resilience start with becoming future proof or is that just one of the entrances? I think it’s the latter.

What can we learn for Business Continuity Management (BCM), Risk Management (RM) and Crisis Management (CM) and on a personal level to become future proof?

The first thing, of course, is that we look into the future. We have to make time for that. If we don’t, we get too focused on what we already can. That produces a daily grind that stays present, giving rise to inefficiency. So variety is the key to adaptation. Further, variety of topics we focus on is also necessary because then we give our subconscious the chance to let a few 10,000ths of brain cells grind through on each of the problems.

However, care should be taken that it does not become too much so that you no longer dwell on a friend’s or acquaintance’s birthday than to send an emoji. The golden advice of Augustus (Ancient Rome) therefore remains valid: “festina lente” or make haste slowly. In fact, that was already an opinion that was close to Kahneman’s when he spoke about “Thinking Fast and Slow”: you have to go slower now and then, because quick decisions often do not survive a long-term vision.

So a right attitude is to embrace changes with slow thinking, which has everything to do with a first step: exploring those changes and the next step: anticipating changes, partly from gut feeling, partly from reason.

That’s why the advice is to stay focused, but in the right way: start with small things.

–         Check your e-mail only twice a day at fixed times.

–         Turn off your sound on your cell phone when you’re not on call. Don’t let yourself be disturbed, use the airplane mode of your smartphone if necessary.

–         Focus on one subject at a time in blocks of time, so that you can get into a ‘concentration flow’.

–         Change subjects regularly, so that your brain knows rest and continues to work subconsciously.

–         Decline meetings if they are not important.

–         Do creative brainstorms and group sessions regularly, at the time of the day when you are at your best.

In order to bring yourself to the best of your ability, there are also a few things you should take into account: you should explore the future from the best possible known and, above all, lived-through present. So:

–         Read a lot and regularly, and gain knowledge.

–         Love yourself.

–         Treat yourself to something tasty.

–         Use the gentle stimulus of calm music (for myself at least, for others it may be a bit rougher).

–         Use technology to support you.

–         Walk during the meetings.

–         Less coffee, more water, avoid sugar.

Second, we see that the masses choose a simple way out, even if it is wrong. Few choose to delve into the longer path that requires more discipline and patience. The masses know they are going wrong, but they don’t know either, because they don’t want to know. And before you know it, you’ll come across a Gray Rhino that is unavoidable. And that will happen again and again. In this way one learns more not from mistakes of the past than one does learn. And that has to do with brain economy. A one-off experience without great factual knowledge thus becomes a rule of thumb that one uses as a law of nature with absolute certainty. And the reason behind this is often ‘awareness of time’. Or the economical use of their personal time. As a result, many Americans stop by a store on their way to work to pick up a snack for breakfast, fueling obesity. And they know it.

From a time economy, we often choose the easy path at work. That feels safer, because it is familiar territory. It is not untrodden ground. And that goes well, until change is required. Then, of course, an unknown territory takes over, and it becomes more difficult for everybody to see, decide and act. This creates psychological resistance. One must therefore learn to experience overcoming a challenge as something delicious.

The reason why one should learn to enjoy being challenged is that one often gets into original situations, and therefore needs a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. This is the only way to push boundaries by alternately exerting and relaxing.

A realization that must penetrate to the core of the gut feeling is that what has previously been tried and failed, may now succeed if the system with which one works changes. After all, complex systems are systems that are time-dependent, in an unprecedented way. As a result, the system’s response to external influences cannot be predicted. Therefore, keep the sensors of your soul open for anticipation of changes in the situation, which is a complex system. Therefore, exploring futures is also useful. Adapt with further training, and think differently, for example from the point of view of scarcity. That could be sooner than you think. See also the UK after Brexit.

Subsequently, it is important to look for a tailor-made approach and solutions in an inspired way in crisis management and resilience management. A copy-paste of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) from another organization does not work for your own organization and therefore does not add anything to your own resilience. The environment changes and everyone and everything is chasing the facts. So continuous adaptation and evolution is required. For organizations this means that the plans, the risk registers, the objectives must change. For people, this means sharpening skills and developing talents and competencies. For both, a vision of the future that is somehow correct is a must. Because one has to go to the core of the questions, the ‘5 x why technique’ is important to find the original causes.

Although it makes no sense to copy a plan from elsewhere, it is possible that inspired design makes sense. It can provide insights into one’s own situation from the situation of the other. That way an inspired version will be better than the original for your situation, even if it fails, because this is part of evolving.

In this way too, creating your own BCP, giving your own interpretation to the crisis teams, setting up your own risk management is innovation. Because it creates or contributes to value. But that cannot be done efficiently without learning from others

In addition, networking is also important because doing all that work without the internal and external customer and knowing the other stakeholders yields nothing useful. Or almost nothing.

So start from your sources, which you mix with the knowledge about your own current and future situations. Write down your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and help build insight into your own situation from there. But always mention your sources, otherwise you will be stealing.

Reverse engineer your sources: see why they work for them, and apply similar reasoning to your own situation.

That way you build your own flexibility. You get it back in no time, because you already had it as a child. Ultimately, agility is innate. Some lose that and become dinos in the business. Others sometimes adapt. Still others are constantly adapting. The latter is what you need. That can go so far that you also have to change dreams and goals. However, that does not mean that you should unlearn acquired skills. Because many things come back cyclically in history and you don’t know which ones in advance. But ‘panta rei’, and so the needs of everything and everyone are constantly changing.

A point of attention here is that experts sometimes try to be able to do everything. That does not work. You have to be able to let go of things. Others can do some things better than you can. However, these are external factors on which you should let nothing depend, but to which you must adapt yourself and your organization. Preparation is therefore ‘key’ and also your own flexibility. Learn to adjust your wishes. Among other things, by continuously learning, or by being curious and by daring to change your opinion in a well-founded and motivated way. A ‘worst case scenario’ in a BCP can thus better become a ‘reasonable worst case scenario’. By adapting in a reasonable way to what you and your organization can handle. What is needed is:

–         Using an open attitude.

–         Trying to be ‘reasonably all-round’.

–         Use fast and slow thinking.

Extremely important are:

–         The use of a cultural empathy and being in / creating a multi-cultural environment.

–         Think about whether you can do it yourself before going to a consultant, because you always know your own needs better than they do.

This makes you more independent, self-steering and more flexible.

Most importantly, even if you evolve well to become future proof, you must always remain a freshman. In the sense that you regularly still practice. Otherwise ideas turn into sterile theory that everyone eventually distrusts, except those who are concerned with ‘conspiracy theories’. So take your time for theory, but also for practice. Take pleasure in both, come up with original things, and before you know it there will be another evolution. This requires interest, as the engine of lifelong learning. When is the best time to do that? When you feel the passion for it. For the content. Note: you don’t have to have a passion to do “something”, but to do “that”.

To further steer that in the right direction, you have to break through the bubble that you were taught in your upbringing. To see your blind spots in what you want to develop. Therefore: travel, do conferences, imagine your dreams, start a ‘secret’ talk club for extreme thoughts.

So: as said: passion comes first. You have to dream big, but start small. Step by step you move forward. Provide content first, look and feel after. Collaborate with competitors and see what you can create together. Go hang out with them. And put your passion to the test.

Besides all this that is based on good will, saying that there is a threat is usually meaningless. One must feel it. So creativity is needed to make this feel. This creativity must be stimulated from the youth years. A STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education should therefore also contain art. (Then it becomes STEAM) After all, design is necessary to establish a link between people and technology.

Thinking about the future should always be based on today’s reality. Otherwise it will not be accepted. That is why working step by step is also important here. A challenge for crisis teams is therefore the fact that risks sometimes seem to make leaps and bounds, because events can sometimes occur suddenly.

To think about the future from the present, with a multi-cultural and technical and scientific background, you should also visit other entities and other governments. Discuss with them their approach and point of view and your own.

However, to think diversely in a group, inclusion is needed. A good Cultural Quotient (CQ) (and culture-based empathy) and adaptability are required for this. Together you have more depth and therefore better insights into your own situation. A better 360° view. Without inclusion, it is just a check-the-box exercise for diversity policy. With a good CQ, look not only inwardly, into your own organization, but also at world developments, far and near from you. Look to the future and the past, to be and remain successful. A strong element in this can be creating your own knowledge-sharing network for people with common interests. A mindset to dare to take risks is essential here.

What must, as an example of daring, is to regularly (dare to) raise the bar. The crisis teams must be informed about the world. In addition, risk leadership is a means to this end. Everything must be openly discussed, hard for the results but with a heart for the people.

In line with this, it makes sense for each of the employees in the crisis teams to look daily at what they are grateful for that day, every day. This focuses on the positive, which increases resilience. Because gratitude, just like being flexible, leads to more happiness. And happiness is one of the most essential conditions for being future-proof.

Is a Growth Mindset always better than a Fixed Mindset in Crisis Management ?

Author: Manu Steens

A very good friend of mine recently took a course on growth mindset and fixed mindset in preschoolers. It turns out that gifted preschoolers are more likely to simply jump over the problems than normally gifted preschoolers, who struggle with the same problems. You would say “good!” but is it? As a result, they do not fall into the pit of the problem and do not learn to climb out of it. As a result, they only take on problems that they can jump over without any problems. They don’t take on challenges. And that can cause for a fixed mindset later in life. People now see this and are trying to change this mindset of these toddlers into a growth mindset.

For me as a crisis manager, that actually first raises the question: “What is a growth mindset and what is a fixed mindset?” and since crisis management has a lot to do with struggling with problems and climbing out of potholes: “What’s important about it for my organization? Where can I place who?”

The phenomenon of “Growth Mindset ” versus “ Fixed Mindset” therefore seems important .

A good explanation of the difference between the two can be found at https://changedepartment.nl/wat-zijn-de-fixed-mindset-en-de-growth-mindset/

(It is in Dutch, but you can use an on-line translator device, right?)

The author of that article, Lodewijk Gimberg , gives the following explanation:

What is a fixed mindset?

“The people who stand behind the fixed mindset, or who walk around with it, are convinced that capacities, for example the talent to be able to analyze well, are fixed. If you are successful at something, you have a talent for it. It is therefore better to avoid things that you can do less well. This way there are no errors and you will not receive negative feedback about these matters. When people have a fixed mindset, they generally give up more quickly and put less or no effort into learning new things.

People with a fixed mindset often also believe that there is virtually no development possible about yourself, your qualities and skills. The persons with a fixed mindset are convinced that their behavior is immutable. A fixed mindset therefore hinders growth and development because ‘we do things the way we always did them’.”

What is a growth mindset?

“That is exactly the case with growth mindset. There is opportunity for development. You are open to improving your qualities, personality and work to be performed. People or persons who have a growth mindset will not give up easily and resign themselves to the fact that the things they want to achieve will have to go step by step. Learning from the situation and how best to approach it is part of the process of a growth mindset. The growth mindset is therefore an important catalyst behind performance improvements and changes.”

These differences, he writes, are vital in an organization. He therefore argues in favor of converting a fixed mindset into a growth mindset.

If I interpret what it says here succinctly, people with a fixed mindset are not suitable for acquiring a competence outside of their talents. But I think there are also opportunities within talents. There is even a booklet about: “I choose for my talent” by Luk Dewulf .

Are fixed mindsetters therefore lost to society? I do not think so. After all, working within your talents is much more fun than outside. Working within talents gives more energy than it costs. Beyond that, it mainly costs energy. That’s why I think it’s careless to define fixed mindsetters in that way. There should be a definition that applies gray zones. And what is missing on the websites I refer to are examples.

In my opinion, interest is an important factor in this. I am trying to give an example of a fixed mindset . Mea culpa if I hit the ball wrong.

People who systematically learn a lot are ICT specialists . Every now and then a new type of system comes out, be it servers or operating systems, and ICT security is already completely driven to the top: the rogue world does not stand still. The security of an organization must therefore always adapt to a changing world.

This brings us to crisis management: this is a strategic world par excellence that must arm itself against new forms and types of threats.

Let’s move on to more tactical stuff.

Fixed mindsetters believe they should stick to their talent ? A talent can be that you enjoy juggling with servers and operating systems. That you enjoy analyzing the customer’s situation and parameterizing those servers and operating systems with ease, so that you install the ideal working environment for your internal customers, namely the business. You are a “miracle kid”. And then you put everything in clear procedures of how you did it, with the necessary screen prints. A child can then do the job the next time. While you indulge in exploring new business needs. Because that falls within your talents.

With your procedures you have been an enormous help to the BC manager, who plans a large part of his ICT continuity, together with the ICT security manager .

On a certain day, the testing of the ICT continuity plans will be discussed. The procedures of the fixed mindsetter work smoothly. That’s how it should be. And he does it with pleasure. After all, it is his “dada”. It is something which is good to do for him. Analyzing and applying. And keep applying.

Then a crisis happens. A nearby river bursts its banks and overflows the server park of the organization. The water is high. An ICT world is thus confronted with a problem from a non-ICT world. The havoc is enormous. Not just for the organization. What has to happen? The fixed mindsetter does not know that at that moment. This is not his job, is his reasoning. Is that good or bad? He chooses to stay in his comfort zone , because otherwise the challenge becomes too much, and threatens to enter the panic zone.

Then the Crisis Management team takes action. Together with the BC Manager, they determine the priorities and determine a strategic solution. And they do it thoroughly: relocation of the company, so that this crisis cannot happen again. And modernize: we are going to build a new server park from the ground up. With the latest technology. But first, the disaster recovery site must be set in motion. That is a cold site, the fixed mindsetter knows. And those servers, right, let’s think, how do we go about that? This is a known issue. The principles are the same as when setting up the primary server park. The procedures are on a spare laptop. The backups work, because they were regularly checked to fix minor system errors. “My dada” the fixed mindsetter thinks again. And the work is moving forward.

A few days later, the disaster recovery site is up and running.

That was possible, because his team leader let him continue to work from his comfort zone: known solutions for experienced problems.

The strategic decisions of the CMT ignore the fixed mindsetter. Their own work comes first.

The CMT is now having heated discussions: where should we relocate ? What threats are there? What is there we don’t know yet? And above all: is that opportune for the employees of the organization? Now maybe no one has drowned, but what are the threats to the staff in which place? How fast can we find a building again? And if we were to work hybrid, could we get by with a smaller building, let alone with a renovated mansion? All questions we were not aware of before. The questions are solved step by step. And that will make it all right, they want to believe. They can believe that, because they come from their comfort zone into a wide dare zone. They dare to experiment.

So far an example of a collaboration between fixed and growth mindset. Both groups in this example may be endowed with a more than decent IQ, and with interests in their field.

If I see a Growth Mind setting CMT in this way working together with a Fixed Mind setter, here as an example a specialist in ICT who only follows his talents and can make perfect analyzes with them, then I think that a fixed mindsetter, through his work for the purpose of disaster recovery, to the BC Manager and CMT are a good added value.

Some will not agree with this example, because the fixed mindsetter in the example has developed into an ITer. I wish to disprove this statement, because by entering an organization as a “unexperienced person” he ends up in a culture where he can be given the opportunity to learn the trade in ICT himself, where “we always did it like this: buy a server, find the instructions from the OS, and install according to good principles” builds in some degree of flexibility.

Some will say that I am ignoring the principle that a fixed mindsetter stops developing. I also want to contradict that, in the sense that it is very black and white. There may also be gray areas here. God must have his number.

However, there are also those that have indeed come to a standstill in terms of development. They will benefit more from a mind switch.

Let’s go back to the children with whom everything starts: “everyone is born with a growth mindset” you can read on the website of Charlotte Labee : https://www.charlottelabee.com/wat-is-het-different-between-growth -mindset-and-fixed-mindset/

However, along their life path, people are confronted with situations that teach them a fixed mindset.

Indeed, there is much to be said for tackling the situation from the very beginning. An enormous responsibility for schools, and also for pre-school education. Our crisis management can depend on it. Challenge those gifted children! Adapted education also for those who can do more than the average !

However, one thing has been debunked : fixed mindsets are not worthless. As you progress in your talents, you can become an expert in your field. And that can be a dream come true. That is possible with many, because I do not believe that the situation of people is either black or white. Doing something or doing nothing with your talents is much more black and white in my opinion. That is why interest is an important factor. It does allow development, albeit for a fixed mindsetter within his talents.

But a growth mindset can also be active within a field of a talent. These are often the people who work on original problems in their field. Putting together original solutions for new challenges step by step in order to arrive at a solution.

When I think about it, back related to ICT, I fear that the rogue world, hackers for example, is in the advantage. They look for solutions to steal where, for example, banks raise obstacles with security, in order to protect their customers’ money. And their successes are in the newspapers every day. They easily spend 70% of their stolen revenues in R&D. Among the “good guys” there are well-known anti-malware companies at the top of ICT Security. But they are always lagging behind. The new malware actually comes first.

Companies that develop new technology, thanks to their growth mindsets, can help an entire army of fixed mindsets find work.

“Do we all have to invent a new kind of bread to be bakers?” seems like a fair question to me. Many difficult problems can still be solved by fixed mindsetters, within their talents. And this situation is very common. Very many top doctors don’t come up with new remedies for unresolved medical problems, very many top engineers don’t bring new types of technologies to the market.

In my opinion, both can work together perfectly , as long as one can keep the fixed mindsetter within the comfort zone. Both can realize dreams. But I do think that both dream differently.

Are seaweed farms on oceans realistic as a solution for the climate ?

Author: Manu Steens

In the previous article I wrote down a wild idea about growing seaweed in oceans as a solution for the climate.

The actual origin of the idea was that I had seen seaweed in a shop in Antwerp in their range and the fact that I had read Bill Gates’ book, where I had my reservations about his idea of ​​​​capturing CO2 with technical solutions from the atmosphere. A basic chemistry course did the rest. But also the question whether Business Continuity Management could save the world from climate change. The idea came quickly that it will only be realized if there can be made a lot of money. And for that, industries have to be created. Possibly with creative destruction.

Today, however, I read some articles about seaweed, and oh wonder, the world has not stood still. It appears that a lot is already being done with seaweed. Time has not stood still in Belgium either. Techniques already exist, there is already a lot of knowledge and experience with cultivating seaweed, albeit on a small scale compared to what I deem necessary. But it gives courage. My first idea is certainly not contradicted. My idea is however somewhat different: let’s do that on the oceans, in ethically responsible places of course. Still the wild dream.

Suppose someone wants to draw up a project about it, what does he or she need to know, and where can they obtain information? For example, there is now talk of exploiting large seaweed breeding basins on land.

Things that need to be known are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to and from the world, which consists of each of us, but also of the environment.

Let’s focus on a SWOT here.

What are some opportunities?

  • A more than exponential increase and leap in food production, which will be necessary to continue feeding the many billions of people. Alleviate hunger in the world. In some countries in the world there are populations that (can) eat little or no meat. I am thinking of Buddhists in India, but also in Asian countries, where rice is currently often a main part of the diet, which makes the diet quite one-sided for large parts of the population. The benefits of this additional food source is an argument for its widespread adoption.
  • In addition to vegetable food, it is also possible to combine with the cultivation of shellfish.
  • Animal nutrition and fish nutrition, so that meat production does not have to be compromised, but also can increase the fish stock in the oceans.
  • Overproduction is virtually impossible, and even welcome, if handled properly.
  • A climate neutral way of producing fuel, which is already being worked on in the fuel sector. This provides an opportunity for creative destruction. A lot of money can be made in this sector, and that is an argument for developing this technology on a large scale.
  • The incredible mass of phosphates and other fertilizers that run off annually to the seas, is captured in the seaweed, so that using fertilizer might not be necessary. Which is also good for the fish stock. This also provides an opportunity for creative destruction.
  • Depending on the characteristics of the seaweeds used, fertilizers can be produced for the agricultural sector on land, because a cycle is created of the lost phosphates and other fertilizers that become available cyclically.
  • Scientific challenges and fun developing
    • logistics on oceans and on land
    • seaweed farms on a large scale as a kind of floating islands as well as
    • seaweed processing techniques that must be done immediately after harvesting. Seaweed does not store very well. This is accompanied by developments in machine construction in combination with shipbuilding
  • Political reinforcement of the countries of the OECD, but also politically unstable countries can benefit from this, such as some African countries, where the seas have been fished empty, and the water is otherwise only used for piracy.
  • Countries that invest early in these applications will quickly benefit financially.
  • Since the climate approach has to be done very quickly, these floating seaweed companies and all sectors around them must do everything they can to develop these technologies. This provides work in various sectors in addition to scientific research: job creation with regard to
    • Operating the farms
    • Logistics at sea and on land
    • The Shipment: passing food factories that produce food need hand on board
    • The trade of finished and partly finished products
    • Justice in international disputes
    • Creating legislation on exploiting the seas
    • Technology and specialized labor for shipbuilding, machine building, but also for building floating farms that must be storm-resistant.
  • As a bonus, we also get a more oxygen-rich atmosphere: trapping and binding the incredible amount of CO2 in the seas, allowing the seas to capture CO2 from the atmosphere, and even be able to deliver a fraction of 02. (This is the reverse of what is happening now.) The climate advantage thanks to this extra O2 source is an argument for applying it on a large scale.
  • As a second bonus, by growing on a large scale, the price of the finished products will be very low, while a large turnover can guarantee very large profits.

So far a number of opportunities that I can think of.

What are possible threats?

  • Seas and oceans are a hostile, an often unknown environment. There are gigantic storms. This complicates working in the logistics chain, the development and exploitation and the inhabitation of seaweed farms. Because in order to withstand the storms, the sea farms must be flexible to give in to the swells, but must contain rigid parts for “cabins”. For the benefit of the crew, stability of the sea farms is also necessary, so that the crew does not become deathly ill. Or to be able to drop them off and pick them up.
  • Hurricane areas will have to be actively avoided. 
  • Such islands may need to be able to dive like a submarine.
  • The safe, shallow, known coastlines may be suggested first to deploy these types of farms. However, that will be too small.
  • In my gut feeling, so many farms will be needed on the oceans that they could hinder international shipping, but also pleasure shipping with private yachts.
  • Shipping must be able to recognize and avoid the sea farms in time.
  • The sea farms must be known to all players, where they are located, who the owners are and who is present on them and when. This is partly to prevent or settle legal or political disputes.
  • Possible implicit political and military interests of the owners countries of this food production in relation to each other if “great powers” ​​arise in this production.
  • Vulnerable places in the oceans with great biodiversity must be respected.

Some possible strengths of “our” world.

  • There is already experience on a smaller scale with the cultivation of seaweed.
  • Seaweed grows very quickly.
  • The polytechnic engineers, mechanical engineers, shipping engineers and others can bring their knowledge together to develop a design of a prototype of a sea farm. Dr Brian von Hertzen of “the Climate Foundation” has already elaborated ideas on this. Some required specifications of such a sea farm are:
    • It must be virtually unsinkable but may need to be able to dive to avoid severe weather e.g..
    • Have a flexible enough structure
    • To be able to have a smooth crew embark and desembark
  • There is already some knowledge and practice on how to use seaweed
    • in the energy sector (this is a potential source of creative destruction) (biodiesel and combustible gases)
    • in the food sector
  • There is more awareness about the climate, and the urgency is slowly but surely better sensed.
  • Votes are raised for various reasons to start exploiting seaweed on a massive scale.
  • My experience is that if people want to realize something, they usually succeed.
  • Politics can very strongly “nudge” the private sectors through tax and other benefits for investors to make investors invest. This can be done both in terms of investments and returns.
  • Provided the right investments are made, parallel work can be done on knowledge and skills to cultivate seaweed under different circumstances: along the coastlines, on the wide oceans…
  • The OECD can play a prominent role because of its international role.
  • Political stability in the world could improve, because there could be less dependence on fossil fuels.
  • The lack of internationally agreed rules for setting up seaweed farms in international waters is more of a convenience than an inconvenience for entrepreneurs.

Some possible weaknesses of “our” world.

  • It takes a mind shift to use seaweed as a vegetable on a large scale. This takes time, which is scarce, so other derivative products must be created “en masse”.
  • The weather predictions at sea should perhaps be better known.
  • Potential political unwillingness to cooperate at an international level.
  • Possible disinterest of the economic world to invest in the development of the necessary techniques or not convinced about the possibilities.
  • The necessary sum of venture capital will be huge.
  • Too many politicians who do not yet believe in the climate problem, have too little will and priority for it and too much influence.
  • Science is not convincingly clear about the state of the climate and its causes: there is too much internal disagreement.
  • There is too little cooperation between the knowledge domains (technical, economic, political) for such a project and to succeed in the short term.
  • There are no international rules and laws in order to be able to operate these types of seaweed farms or sea farms without political entanglements. For example, what if a farm drifts into the territorial waters of a politically unstable country.
  • The techniques to be developed only partially exist. It takes time to develop these things at a normal pace. And time is running out. To make it go faster, politicians and the global economy must take the matter seriously, and be prepared to pump money into it at a fast pace, and with priority. Politicians can give a financial or other push to the potential investors.
  • Politically or monetarily unstable countries will be able to profit minimally from these achievements, unless international politics is used to provide insight into the benefits of participating politically in this.
  • Decomposition of dead seaweed can consume oxygen. Therefore, regular harvesting and processing is also necessary.

The answer is not yet given, whether seaweed farms on oceans are realistic.

To do this, the strengths and weaknesses should be linked to the opportunities and threats in a confrontation matrix that thereby defines projects and activities for each factor of a SWOT, for which this list above can be a first approach. This already shows that technical problems are not the only ones.

To this end, for an answer to the question of realism of development and a vision of cooperation over the feasibility of such an idea, there should be several fields of science and industrial sectors and the political world involved. A first idea for this is an organizational network of several communities of practice at each node of the network. They can then organize activities, partnerships, etc. to define feasible projects for issues in that confrontation matrix, once it has been established. If successful, it can be demonstrated whether the idea is feasible. After that, the super project has to start, on all fronts at once to save time and with a major advertising campaign for entrepreneurs . But those are all different ideas.

The interested reader can find more information here:

https://www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2021/05/19/gekweekt-zeewier-uit-onze-noordzee-Gezond-maar-duurt-nog-jare/?fbclid=IwAR3mL0ocvK6HreUOrXv_BM_Zx19osnzU1FB1K6PB1Dx2n02

https://www.zeewierwijzer.nl/zeewier/zeewier-marine-macro-alg/teelt/?fbclid=IwAR28MHy9j2YVQigTZ73266kd03UmOe8Zf9qqb_mV4WJlP2jif81zcB2ngV4

https://theconversation.com/how-farming-giant-seaweed-can-feed-fish-and-fix-the-climate-81761?fbclid=IwAR39NqJf61oj4G3ibPPPOyTl-OYP82SGTczFJxHhwCWGNlG3jF-8XOV4G3k

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seaweed_farming?fbclid=IwAR3mL0ocvK6HreUOrXv_BM_Zx19osnzU1FB1K6B1Dx2n02PBb6DMh7I7w30

The IPCC : Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate  

https://www.euronews.com/green/2020/06/09/seaweed-farming-an-economic-and-sustainable-opportunity-for-europe?fbclid=IwAR1C_ZUhZEc46cq6D7QUGllX_o5FFrlu5xBTBmYEtxC6lN82yHpIGMklFV