The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Open communities

The last months have shown the scale of speed we can be confronted with in times of crisis.

It shines a light on speed and agility leadership has to be able to live up to nowadays. Maybe not all the time, but for sure much more often than in the past.

The most impressive example for this has been the transformation the global scientific community enabled itself to step into as it found a way to face the crisis as a community.

This transformation highlighted three important aspects of the scientific community by increasing them significantly: the speed at which it operates, it’s accessibility and its ability to align itself to public needs.

In an interesting article on the topic, Craig Callender shared a list of the most important changes since the start of the pandemic. It includes the quick spread of available information across the globe, the agreement of 117 academies, journals, institutes, and funding bodies to share research and data regarding coronavirus, the US Department of Health and Human Services waiving liability to drug manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies pouring billions of dollars into coronavirus research.

It is clear, that while these initiatives have been desired they also create discomfort. A discomfort that may lead to science going back to the previous mode after the crisis, making this period only a learning for the next crisis.

This would be putting the chance aside to create a more equitable and effective science through an open approach. One that would help reduce the inequality of the needs addressed. It’s an inequality resulting from the simple fact that development happens where money can be earned, leaving rare diseases and less profitable drugs aside.

The ability of leading institutions to step in together into this approach reduces the dominance of the ideas of scarcity and competition which led to keeping the community a closed one until now.

An important question will be how the individual entities live up to their responsibilities and how they enable themselves to keep their work within shared ethics. But here again, defining it as the way we work together establishes a way to cooperate, one that defines the culture and its expectations.



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