Like the famous Dr. Suess book, Horton Hears a Who, where Horton professes to be a protector of those too small to see and espouses that each person is vital to the community (Dr. Suess, 1954). Angela Merkel, prime minister of Germany, is leading the world in COVID analysis. She is bringing together top medical and policy professionals to form a pandemic intelligence hub for the World Health Organization (WHO) (The Guardian, 1 September 2021).
Considering the three stages of knowledge Dixon described in her blog; 1) explicit, 2) experiential 3) collective (Dixon, 2009) in the past the WHO could count on the first element of knowledge management. However, with the demise of organizational authority in many professions including doctors (Raine, 2017), the WHO must try a new tact. The new era is using the collective knowledge of a broad community through the web and database applications. Merkel is leading the charge, establishing a pandemic hub. She is following the experiential model and moving it toward a collective practice in the future. She is genius because she is investing in the hub so Germany can take the lead. She is in the words of Dixon (2009) a great convener, which is the way to lead in the modern world.
Consider the reasons the hub is critical for the world. According to The Guardian (2021) tracking the COVID variant is very difficult because, “Analytical tools are often developed in isolation or on an ad hoc basis, and analyses are hampered by data formatting issues. (p.1)”. The WHO receives more than 9m pieces of information each month (The Guardian, 2021), therefore screening or looking at items fast then assessing, and sharing is paramount to moving fast (Kelly, 2016). In addition, there is a genome sequencing project that needs to be done to track the variants of COVID-19 (The Guardian, 2021). It takes a lot of computing power and many varied inputs from across the world are necessary. A web-based application will help streamline and standardize the data for faster assessment and sharing will improve results through collaboration (Jarche, 2016). This is a great example of how collective learning or further networked knowledge will be important to future science (Dixon, 2009).
Leadership in a collective or networked world is defined by those who have vision to convene the necessary group (Dixon, 2009) and those who spend resources wisely for the right things. Merkel was brilliant in setting up shop in Berlin. In the future, that means Germany will be internationally known for epidemiology. She will also inspire a new generation of German scientists and doctors based on this hub. Of course, she didn’t just fall into leading in science, she has her PhD in quantum chemistry (The Atlantic, 2020). Merkel is technically competent, knows how interact with others, and can conceptualize a future the at better than present for tracking pandemics (Jacques, 1986). That is leadership.
Knowledge Management is here to stay. As Dixon (2007) pointed out, each level has its followers and specific uses. From individuals, operators, collective, and out to the network, they are all unique and useful.
Fake News. In an information age it will be ever more important to guard against fake news and trolls (Singer, 2018). The future will require some kind of branding that shows us real from fake news, perhaps a Consumer Report-type thing? I don’t know what that might be, how do we know who is selling us lies? Maybe you have seen good examples to use?
Angela Merkel is leading by giving a voice to those whose voices are not heard and showing value of community interaction through her United Nations WHO hub.
Jacques, E. (1986). The development of intellectual capability: A discussion of stratified system theory. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 22, 361-384. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/002188638602200402
Kelly, K. (2016). The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future, Viking Press, ISBN: 978-0525428084
Rainer, L. (2017) Pew Research. Education in the Age of Fake News and Disputed Facts. Briefing.
Suess (1954) Horton Hears a Who.