Such a lot to learn from this pandemic; enough to keep the social scientists in PhD material for the foreseeable future. And for us all at the coal face, we’ve been learning how to work remotely from home ...
This has meant juggling home-schooling our children whilst attending an online business meeting using unfamiliar technology. There are loads of blog posts to be written around on that subject.
The one I wanted to address was the discovery that a familiar drug Dexamethazone (it’s been around since 1957) has been found to have significant results in treating the sickest patients!
Whilst not being a cure as such, it can save the lives of 1 in 3 people on ventilators and 1 in 5 with significant breathing difficulties. Yet, if given earlier in treatment, it has no effect at all. Why would that be? Because it acts on COVID-19 as it has always been known to act, by dampening the immune response.
The reason people die of COVID-19 is when they have a massive overwhelming immune response that damages their own tissue. Reduce the overwhelm and the body can fight off the virus. For any medic reading this, I know I’ve simplified it, but this is a business blog post, not a scientific paper, for forgive me. As an added bonus, it’s as cheap as chips and plentiful so should be available to all who need it.
Fortunately, for most of us, we're not facing a rush to save lives from a disease we know very little about. However, we can take learnings from this extensive survey and the success that came from it then apply it to our apparently intractable problems. After all, even if we don’t solve it completely, would a 30% improvement be welcome? I suspect so.
Here’s my take on what we can apply to our own circumstances:
- Take a look in the cupboard at what you’ve already got available
This is the big one for me. We can be seduced into thinking that some magic quick fix is just around the corner. Often we can make quick wins by just applying what we already know.
We may not have used it for this problem before, but maybe something similar? It may not be the ultimate answer but if by treating the symptoms we make a 30% improvement that’s a step in the right direction. Something build on.
Of course, we’re unlikely to do a full-on piece of scientific research with controls and comparing one treatment with another, but do make a long list of possible solutions. Do a reality check around what is working and be prepared to change direction as the data shows you need to.
Here’s where others with similar experiences can really help. They can challenge your perceptions as well as offer different solutions. Imagine if the doctors who had tried Dexamethasone weren’t asked to contribute to the long list of drugs in this study?
This is the fascinating aspect of this trial. You can apply it too early and not dampen the immune response and the patient does not improve. Now no-one suggesting that we wait to be overwhelmed, but when it occurs it’s good to have something to counter it.
The learnings I got from all this was more of a reminder to pick your moments to apply interventions. I leave you with Jon Gordon’s excellent quote, "You haven't failed until you stop trying!"
What are your business learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic?
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