We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever

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We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever
We've made our coronavirus coverage free for all readers. To get all of HBR's content delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Daily Alert newsletter. The idea of "crisis management" requires no explanation right now. Something unexpected and significant happens, and our first instincts are to defend against - and later to understand and manage - the disturbance to the status quo.


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Reality Reloaded

Reality Reloaded

Pandemics, wars, and major social crisis create new kinds of attitudes, needs, and behaviors, which require mastering new skills and adjusting to the new realities.

One of the key factors...


Crisis Chronology

During a crisis, the chronological way to handle things is usually:

  • Defensiveness and rapid reaction.
  • Endurance plans for a potential recession....


Developing Capacity For Imagination

Imagination is a challenging task under extreme circumstances and world-changing events like the current pandemic. It helps us go from adapting to the new environment to shaping it. A leader...


Time For Reflection

Managers and leaders need to find time to stand back and reflect, steering away from the ‘fight or flight’ response for some time. While this is difficult in the midst of heavy demands, it is cruci...


Ask Active, Open Questions

Creativity and Imagination involve going beyond the obvious ‘passive’ questioning, and finding fresh ideas and approaches, that as a matter of fact start with the right questions, like:

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    Be Playful

    When a crisis requires a goal-driven, serious response, it is easy to overlook the power of Play, which is a critical accelerated learning capability.

    The act of play makes us form inter...

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    System For Sharing Ideas

    Collective Imagination is the key to success in the current circumstances. A good leader picks up, maps, and scales the ideas provided by individuals.

    A system needs to be set up to f...

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    Seek The Unexpected

    The cliche ‘thinking out-of-the-box’ is apt in this context. Imagination is triggered by the unexpected. 

    New solutions and breakthroughs are not apparent and maybe just an anomal...

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    Even if the budget is low, it is important to experiment. 

    Testing theoretical ideas in the real world is a necessary step and often generates unexpected outcomes leading to further i...

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    Don’t Lose Hope

    Optimism and pessimism, both can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Our beliefs often shape our reality. Having a hopeful, can-do attitude works in favor of our solving the challenge...

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    Rituals and the sense of control

    Rituals and the sense of control

    They are a powerful human mechanism for managing extreme emotions and stress, and we should be leaning on them now.
    The utility of the ritual isn’t related to its practicality. Absurd rituals ca...

    Rituals play a number of critical roles

    • Rituals in the face of loss can help us feel less grief.
    • Rituals with families can make us feel closer.
    • Rituals with our partners can reinforce our commitment to each other.

    They are not “elaborate religious ceremonies”, but more often just private and idiosyncratic activities.

    Rituals and repetition

    Repeated rituals seem to gain in strength, but even one-time rituals can be effective (for example, burning pictures in the place where you met your ex).

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    A new playbook

    Growth evangelists are right when they state that severe lockdowns produce a parallel human misery of unemployment, looming bankruptcies, and extreme financial anguish. Yet, opening the economy too...

    The false choice

    “Save the economy or save lives” is a false choice.
    A group of economists published a paper on the 1918 flu outbreak. Their findings revealed:

    • Early and aggressive interventions saved lives and triggered a faster rebound, such as job growth and banking assets.
    • Without a healthy population, there can be no healthy economy.

    The hope is for a deep, short recession, to show that people have shut the economy down to limit the spread of disease.

    A living wage

    Asking millions of able-bodied workers to stop working creates a crisis of unemployment.

    During this time, the U.S. is expanding unemployment benefits and are also delaying tax filing. In northern-European countries, the government is directly paying businesses to maintain their payrolls to avoid mass layoffs and furloughs.

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    Guiding your life decisions

    The best way to find answers to life decisions is to understand the framework that guides the answers.

    With the framework in mind, anyone can answer their own questions more insightful than a...

    Find answers to these questions

    1. How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? 
    2. How can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?
    3. When life sends you in the wrong direction, how can you be sure you'll stay out of jail? 

    Happiness in your career

    Frederick Herzberg states that the motivator in our lives isn't money.

    • The motivator is the opportunity to learn;
    • To grow in responsibilities;
    • To contribute to others;
    • To be recognized for achievements.

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