Facing Uncertainty


Today we feel what uncertainty is. Covid-19, which became a global pandemic, really made the around the world haunted by uncertainty. Collective anxiety continues to increase. We do not know what will happen today and other surprises in the future. Uncertainty occurs when we are unable to predict our actions. Our job is to make uncertainty certainty. Capacity and capability are the key to transforming uncertainty into certainty. Uncertainty will last a long time when something is new and we have no knowledge about it. Instead, uncertainty will soon pass when we have the knowledge and ability to deal with it. This is exactly the formula for dealing with VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) which must be changed to VUCA (Vision, Understanding, Clarity, Agility). One key word to deal with uncertainty is "Understanding", which naturally demands a certain amount of information and knowledge so that we can predict what will happen.

Covid-19 is a source of uncertainty. People know this virus, but do not know the vaccine to overcome it. This is the trigger for anxiety over future uncertainty. This is where we are required to quickly understand what and why. This speed of understanding will determine the speed at which we create certainty. Therefore there are some important keywords for us to develop in facing post-Covid-19 uncertainty.

First, become agile learners. To get "understanding", consider the words of futurologist Alvin Toffler, "the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn". Facing a volatile world like this requires its own agility as a learner. An agile learner minded person will quickly know what's happening and is quick to come up with a solution. Agile learners will have a growth mindset and not a fixed mindset. The concept of growth mindset illustrates the way of thinking that continues to grow in accordance with the development of the situation, including the courage to leave the old way of thinking. Because what is being faced is a new situation, it must be addressed with new ways of thinking. Instead fixed mindset illustrates the stagnation of ways of thinking because there is no change in the way of thinking when dealing with situations that change quickly. So, the old way of thinking is forced to see something new which is certainly not quite right. Like people now impose diskettes on other people when everyone is already using the cloud. Fixed mindset does not develop while the scope and depth of the problem always develops.

We are fortunate because now many scientists have become agile learners. Within 3 months, many new discoveries to overcome Covid-19. Though Covid-19 is new. Mediocre learners won't be able to go this fast. Agile learners are learners who always respond to change. According to Charles Darwin such a person will be able to survive. Darwin said, "It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones who are the most responsive to change". Agile learners have the potential to become a group of innovators who are ready to respond to change. This is now the core of the IPB curriculum change 2020 (K2020) which is expected to produce many agile learners.

Second, the learner's mentality is the capital to form a learning society, characterized by an atmosphere of mutual inspiration. Inspiration is the process of inspiring others to think and act. Imagine if most people had inspirational ideas and works, which meant that other people were inspired to do the same thing. If the learning community is realized then this nation will be rich in innovation, and this innovation will be a problem solving capital and an important pillar of the future economy. The characteristics of the learning community will be seen from the narratives built on social media: whether they contain inspirational narratives that build optimism or contain narratives to spread fear and build pessimism. Of course the learning community will tend to fill public space by spreading optimism. Optimism is positive energy that is able to drive change from uncertainty to certainty.

In the Covid-19 pandemic situation, a passion for encouraging and inspiring each other is needed. This is tremendous social energy to overcome Covid-19. The body is biologically very dependent on the mindset and suggestion. Mindset that leads to pessimism, anxiety, and fear will reduce endurance. Instead of positive mentality, positive imagination and optimism will contribute to body strength. Likewise the condition of the community, which should be strengthened with enthusiasm and optimistic ideas so that social resilience will be even higher. Social security will be a pillar in fighting against sources of uncertainty, such as Covid-19. Therefore various technical efforts to overcome Covid-19 must be complemented by strengthening social capital.

Third, build the power of collaboration. Facing uncertainty cannot be alone. Uncertainty can turn into certainty if collaboration is created across all components. Facing Covid-19 doctors cannot be alone, need biopharmaca experts, public health experts, bioinformatics experts, nurses, veterinarians, communication experts, psychologists, economists, and so forth. The central government also cannot be alone, it needs the provincial government, municipal government, district government, DPR RI, BPK, Polri, TNI, academics, NGOs, religious leaders, and the private sector. Collaboration is a way to unite potential and strength, especially in a world full of complexity where the problem does not contain one more variable but multi-variable. Facing multi variable and related problems with one another requires stronger collaboration. A good example is BRIN's initiative to strengthen the Covid-19 research consortium, where IPB collaborates with UI to find herbal medicines to overcome Covid-19. Exactly is research in the field of bioinformatics to find herbal ingredients as potential candidates for antivirus for coronavirus through big data analysis and machine learning as well as molecular modeling methods. IPB also consists of interdisciplinary experts from the Center for Biopharmaca Studies and the Department of Computer Science. It is time for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research to be strengthened, and again requires the prerequisites for collaboration.

Fourth, ready with flexibility. The formula for dealing with uncertainty is flexibility. One expert once said "strategy is a journey". There is no permanent strategy, especially in this VUCA era. Strategies can change halfway. Change so quickly requires flexibility. What we are now doing through distance learning due to the campus close-down policy due to Covid-19 is a form of flexibility. The standard of students entering the classroom, the lecturer stands in class with LCD and blackboard with a tight schedule. Everything must be synchronous. However, now we are forced to change with totally different learning patterns. Teaching and learning activities can be synchronous or asynchronous. Don't need a whiteboard and don't need an LCD. What is needed is internet access. This is not easy because patterns can change but learning outcomes must be achieved. Before the Covid-19 case, the introduction of blended learning was underestimated. Not even a few who oppose. But now inevitably and like it or not, online patterns must be done. Similarly, the campus was forced to close down and lecturers and education personnel work from home. Now forced to meet online. Meetings no longer have to gather in one room. Meetings can be anywhere and anytime. So the flexibility we experience now is by accident and not by design. However, in this context, the wisdom that can be drawn from the Covid-19 case is our willingness to be in a flexible world.

The four keywords above are minimal efforts to deal with uncertainty. These four things must be equipped with risk management skills. Risk is a potential problem that will arise later on. Therefore, risk identification is important so steps are prepared to ensure that our goals and targets can be achieved. Achieving these goals and targets is an effort to realize certainty. However, certainty and stability are relative and temporary. It is not impossible that new sources of uncertainty will arise because this is not something that can be controlled. Whatever form and source of uncertainty, what is important is our readiness to always be optimistic in dealing with it and able to transform uncertainty into certainty. This optimism is important, because God will act according to the prejudices of His servants.

Bogor, March 27, 2020