Even before COVID-19 we were already living with a great deal of destabilizing uncertainty. The rate of change in our Information Age is dizzying. During this pandemic, change and uncertainty have become unfathomable.

In the face of uncertainty, it's important to figure out new ways of thinking and doing. Current models of innovation provide tools for this purpose, including design thinking, knowledge creation, open innovation and lean strategy, among many others; these and other models of creativity and innovation have been expanded upon at universities and research institutions around the world.

Each of these models inform a useful creativity tool called Bionic Learning©, which incorporates the inference-based model of Col. John Boyd, in which the orientation of different perspectives plays a key role. A useful acronym for this process is iSHOC©, which calls for inquiry, seeking, hypothesizing, orientation and creation. A particular inquiry always leads to creation. Creation will be based on a pivot - if the hypothesis is found to be incorrect - or creation will bring about an upward learning spiral - if the hypothesis is found to be correct. Whenever we create, we are acting on new learning. We are learning to grow from uncertainty.

While we are uncertain about what lies ahead, iSHOC© leaves us better prepared to problem-solve, and prepared in a way that implicitly recognizes that we all benefit when we fairly analyze everyone’s needs.

We’ve seen how the coronavirus is having an unfair impact on the health of people whose work puts them on the front lines and whose medical plans are often uncertain. Access to entrepreneurship is likewise not equal among different constituencies. Starting and growing a business is a lot harder for women, people of color, and rural residents who have less support, steeper challenges in navigating red tape and in lining up capital. (See “What the COVID-19 Pandemic Tells About Gender Inequality”, Progressive Liberty, May 11, 2020.)

Importantly, COVID-19 highlights the chasm that is the digital divide. While educators tenaciously try to keep their students engaged in their homes, the lack of adequate technology in many residences causes some children to fall farther behind while schools are shut down.

Pew research showed that 15% of U.S. households with school-age children do not have a high-speed Internet connection at home and 45% of students in households with income less than $30,000 a year were doing homework on a phone, due to lack of access to a computer connected to the Internet. This leaves a huge segment of society that will forever be disconnected unless we bridge this divide.

This pandemic confers the need to create community that finally bridges this chasm. Hundreds of organizations around the country and world are recognizing aligned values and visions and are joining together to achieve impact on a scale that none could accomplish individually.

In a nation born out of individualism, our greatest strength can be our willingness to join forces. We can remain strong individuals while also together building stronger schools, stronger businesses, a stronger economy, stronger infrastructure and a stronger nation. We are in this together.