Parchment paper that reads, "In the midst of change, there is also opportunity. –Sun Tzu"

Looking for opportunity in COVID-19

The great Chinese general, Sun Tzu, proclaimed that “in the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”—a fitting thought for these days of COVID-19.

This season of life is a challenge. Fear, uncertainty and doubt seem to be the order of the day. Rhetoric, misused facts, and speculation are the steady diet of information we are being fed from the media.

We are better than this! We have smart people, good tools, and the right processes. There should be no doubt we cannot erase, no fear we let paralyze us—of that we can be certain.

Look at the way DoIT responded to the challenge of transitioning our university to online course delivery: The way we quickly and efficiently moved away from campus and set up shop in home offices, living rooms, kitchen tables—and, weather permitting—patios and decks.

I spoke with my Big Ten Chief Information Security Officer colleagues this past Friday, and all of us have the same challenges. More important, we are happy our teams are not only surviving but thriving in the COVID-19 contingency world. We all look forward to the time when “normal” happens, whatever normal might be then.

While we are still apart, I want to reflect for a moment on what I have learned over the past two months:

  • I learned to enjoy the commute from my bedroom to the office much more now that I can do it in under 5 minutes, including the stop for coffee and breakfast.
  • I know that connecting with my team is as simple as an MS Teams call, and I learned not to be surprised when I poke my head into their “office” that they are talking to their cat.
  • I am amazed at how many hats others have.
  • And, I have learned that the hard work we all do is just as productive—and, in many cases, more productive, than whatever “normal” used to be.

COVID-19 gave us the opportunity to put last fall’s tabletop exercise in pandemic contingency planning into action. To exercise our ability to be flexible, fair, and creative. To learn that focus is an art with all the distractions the world throws at us.

We now know what the term “art of the possible” means. We proved once again that together we are the valuable and effective team of IT professionals that stared COVID-19 in the face and said: “Bring it!”

While working remote brought us new challenges, it also brings great opportunities to rethink the way we work. Productivity has notably increased, we are taking more time to communicate, and we are working closely with one another—even when some of us are many miles from Madison.

This may not be the normal we need. But while it’s the normal we have, let’s make the most of it.

Keep focusing on what is most important; DoIT services, our customers, your teams, your families, and yourself. 

Be the bright light of encouragement and the strong voice of reason—in every situation.