Updated: Aug 16, 2020
“Running away from a problem only increases the distance from the solution.” – Anonymous
“We fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem.” – Russell L. Ackoff
New Zealand’s (and Australasian friends) future, thousands of lives and businesses will continue be heavily impacted by the 2nd and possibly repetitive dives into various states of lock-down. As such, if protecting vulnerable is a core lock-downs, the blunders and uncertainty of a problematic COVID “elimination strategy” may prove more catastrophic than alternative methods as they are reactive and limited by adequate intelligence.
The limitations of the COVID “elimination strategy” are summarised here. Given the limitations, yet massive implications, the public (Inc. communities, industry and all members of society) now need and deserve voice on how the COVID strategy is designed and executed.
To assist with this, example solutions are put forward for alternative COVID strategy. These are integral to establishing, at least, some meaning with the forthcoming election (in public terms) by restoring confidence in the current management of COVID “strategy”.
Given "elimination" is flawed (as explained in the article and shown in reality), rigorous public debate is now required. Informed choices are necessary. An authentic democratic process is needed. That being – as a prelude to the article - if the public are entrusted to determine New Zealand societies future with pursing a decision to legitmise the health harm of Cannabis, then the same trust should be placed in obtaining public voice and decisions on how COVID (and beyond) strategy and management should occur (moving forward). A new referendum is needed. Park Cannabis. Seek New Zealand input on COVID strategy.
If “uniting” to “fight COVID” through a “team of 5 million” is to have validity (strategically), the “team of 5 million” needs to agree to play the same sport and game. With that agreement, this would involve harnessing the team (of 5 million's) motivation and skill sets to win the “fight” with a coherent and credible strategic approach.
Indeed – like in most successful business and sports teams, the participants and players are also provided the full intel that informs said strategic approach and subsequent game plan(s). The public of New Zealand need the full and proper information the "government" operate with.
The difficulty, currently, is the current strategic intel informing an elimination strategy is unclear. It has also not been revealed to the public, business and or community.
The growing perception is that the COVID intel and needs for the country, to navigate through the circumstances, appear to not match the game plan being applied. This might be because it is inconsistent, but still needs sharing as New Zealand faces the prospect of decades of strategic drift with the unnecessary erosion of economic harm and social degeneration.
Indeed, as Tim O’Conner (Auckland Grammar) eluded to (for 2020 at least), and as written in prior posts, NZ faces entrenched difficulties as the underpinning idea / talent generation system (education), in also being also 2 centuries obsolete, has no operating creative and digital-education model (in broad terms).
None of the team or players (referring to the ‘team of 5 – million), also, have been engaged in the design of “elimination” strategy, but told to support it (even when it’s not worked). There appears no game plan. Indeed – sentiment suggests that “team of 5 million”, have, effectively, been told they are playing the game, but in reality, are sitting on the bench (for one lens / analogy). Others argue, the “team” are actually sacrificial pawns (in another analogy / lens) if the implications of the “elimination” approach ultimately lose what is a complex chess game (in terms of disrupted lives, businesses and communities and a country adrift the world).
The “strategy” or “game plan”, models, risk assessments, information and or options - other than the token showing of alert levels - and calls for kindness in times of, effectively, periodic confinement - hasn’t really been disclosed to the public. Indeed - if there is one, it clearly isn’t working.
The purported blunders in quarantine and or on the border suggest, if true, that (at best) weaknesses in the elimination strategy and pandemic crisis (being very kind here). For all the pain, at purportedly $ 0.5bn per week of each lockdown, no gains can be made. Subsidies and the sanctimony of “be kind” are not a solution for those suffering incredulous rates hikes by local councils. Given the circumstances, the need for going hard and fast, whatever happened to dealing with hardship on NZ with the fuel price gouging? Now would be a great time to deal to the fuel prices by eroding excise, Emissions Tax and other government components that make up 57% (+/-) of the consumer cost? That would, immediately and with zero administrative overhead (subsidies cost another bucket $ to run), help homes and business cash-flows.
Thus – on the face of it, when mapping all the points of interaction, metaphorically, New Zealand is strategically naked or is in elimination strategy “emperor with no clothes”. This is because unless NZ isolates itself out the global pandemic for possibly decades and blocks all borders completely / permanently, with absolutely NO entry for anyone or anything (under all circumstances) – elimination cannot occur.
Further, and in the immediate term, challenges come in as the symptom severity of COVID are marketed as like a flu or a cold. There are also, as proven, too many points of failure and entry into NZ (freight, goods, exemptions, quarantine, military, essential workers from overseas, airports etc). There is a proven propensity for total blunders preventing the success of even any short-term elimination strategy or even a tactical approach to work.
The current lockdown(s) are, potentially, a further symbol of total failures with even basic risk management, for the programmes and projects for border & quarantine safeguards. Overall, they appears to have highlighted competency deficits at the national elimination strategy governance, design and execution level more so than, as appears evident, blaming failures at the front-line.
Additionally, the fundamental break down in the legitimacy of the “elimination strategy” is that tracking and tracing methodologies are retrospective, manual and hampered by the admission, despite 3 days of a city being locked down, a fundamental break down and lack of intelligence on the issue(s). Is the concept of business intelligence even known?
Although impossible and unrealistic, in order for an “elimination strategy” to work; it requires live tracking of all Nz’ers. A Health lanyard or passport, per se, would only work if total national and live intelligence on all citizens health circumstances and instantaneous isolation and tracking/tracing of any COVID occurrence – and then lock-down of all those connected to the live-detected issue. Even then, it’s still not elimination, more containment. Full and near ideal Elimination strategy would require citizen acceptance of wearing live-health wearable devices connected to a central system monitoring the effectiveness of elimination strategy in real-time?
Does the problem necessitate this type of intrusiveness in order to legitmise and make effective “elimination strategy”?
Such surveillance would come with difficult public uptake due to large degrees of mistrust of governments.
In reality and back to the present day - this latest 3-day entire city lock down has highlighted the issues exist between the “strategy” need and the intelligence required to execute the nature of it no matter how unrealistic (‘elimination requires real-time intelligence). As such – elimination strategy for COVID crumbles as:
· The problem is, largely, undetectable (and, where detected, is “probable”, but not confirmatory and is latent to its emergence – creating problem upon problem, not elimination).
· The cause, therefore, is really, unknown (was not eliminated and cannot be eliminated). Even the idea of containment strategy is difficult without adequate live or even near live intelligence
· The justification for implicating Auckland or NZ with further lock down(s) based on “elimination” with the current execution, execution process and or intelligence, therefore, is completely invalid.
To expand, these methods are reliant on testing processes which, in occurring with significant latency to any cause (undetected) and or further spread, are further thwarted by a reliance upon citizens to “say yes to a test”. Challenges come is because citizens, at point of infection or apparent symptom are not able to differentiate between the symptoms of COVID or a Cold (as they are the same). Many will, if they do have symptoms (mild or otherwise) of either, ride it out or dismiss the test and or seriousness (given the lack of intel provided on the “problem”). If they are asymptomatic with COVID, they’ll not pursue a test at all (for obvious reasons). The problem then persists undetected and or undetectable to any elimination strategy.
Fundamentally, and more broadly, the success of an elimination strategy relies on all nations on the planet to follow suit. This is where the idea of “international bubbles” show elimination strategy to be nonsensical (and so to the lock-downs).
Even from a confidence perspective (inc. rationale for future reviews to ‘move down alert levels’) elimination relies on COVID to have robust control measures that guarantee declining infection (even in its locality) which secure an extinguished goal with no mutations and or ability for it to manifest or reemerge. Conspiracy theories lean towards Orwellian themes for such a notion notwithstanding the unrealistic nature of the plan.
In reality, Citizens, businesses, communities and or education (E.g. to develop the ideas and talent needed beyond COVID) cannot exist in perpetual or turbulent state of uncertainty. Nor can they exist going into and or out of “lock-down” to “eliminate” COVID due blunders in the management of the strategy.
Similarly - New Zealand and many nations are unable to establish a value proposition for socio-economic survival in concert with developing the types of control measures needed for elimination strategy to succeed.
Given these factors - locking down the country or cities, to preserve or re-establish “elimination strategy” has no absolutely no legitimate strategic validity, intelligence or means for implementation. The “team of 5 million” are not even able to unite in the fight despite being told to. It is hard to see where “gains’ have been made there is no way to tell gains have or haven’t been made (as already evident).
This might be tolerable in a case where the strategy (in this case the elimination strategy) had succeeded or had any mechanism or hope of succeeding. It does not and has not.
The implications of persisting with a system-centred ‘elimination strategy’ are serious an incumbent on the ‘team members’ who have had zero say in its design or management. The implications of subsidies, tolerable closures, social pain and or long term National debt, devoid of any vision, ideas and hope; just serious. Very serious!
Compounding matters - there appears to be no obvious vision or objectives for transforming the underlying education system, to cope with digital education needs, nor generate the talent and ideas necessarily for NZ to produce creative-exports (to mitigate erosion of masthead industries) and repay significant debt (as money for subsidy approaches runs out).
Low-grade digital devices have been distributed. Paper-work books and a variety of tokens have been distributed to the kids, the future, of New Zealand – if they go there!
Notwithstanding the problem is complex. Very complex - it is also difficult for political “leaders” to express credible approaches and not be accused, rightly or wrongly, of whimsical, misinformed, ideologically grounded or politically suitable decisions. Many leaders, even if they were citizen centered, are bound to the ideological baggage and dogma of their political party.
Perhaps symbolising this (or not) – depending on your view - the strengths of relying on political parties alone weakens the National interest when such pressures drive choices; which then influence future government choices based solely on a track record of pandemic strategic design or management.
With a citizen voice, Human potential, Nations, Communities, economies and lives are not developed by repeat lock-down's (not matter how they occurred). Pandemic strategy requires more sophistication and authentic human interest to engender hope and belief in the citizens and communities implicated the issue.
Hope with COVID and Beyond
With Election 2020 approaching, hope and vision is now needed. In contrast to the election outcome of 2017, dictated by one individual, COVID demands and deserves citizen input into the design of NZ’s strategic direction and multi-year objectives through COVID and Beyond.
The opportunity exists to obtain and demand this input through an alternate referendum recommendation on COVID strategy. This citizen centred approach will establish unification (or as best as can be achieved) and buy-in for the most humanistic approach to dealing with this complex issue.
Yes, it is suggested here that the citizen and or societal voice now needs it’s say.
To accomplish this, the proposed public referendum in the forthcoming election should be changed for priority considerations. Indeed, if the public are to be asked to decide on scaling and legalising the health harm of Cannabis into society, the public should also be asked, in election and referendum, to decide upon how the health and even life issues of COVID strategy and management should occur for the future of NZ. If there is a genuine “team of 5 million” and if the idea of democracy (to serve public interest) is true, the public should be able to determine and manage their fate in these “unprecedented times”. This would give, at least, some credibility to the ‘strategy’ and ‘team of 5 million’ marketing (word changed).
The following need public :
1. INTELLIGENCE: The Same full and proper information on COVID, that informs the government on “elimination strategy”, should be disclosed to the public.
Suggested Referendum - Questions should be answered (informed by the intel) by the public on
2. STRATEGY: Choices for strategy type, informed by quality systemic intelligence data (independent of government) should be established. Examples include the value, outcomes and methods for (in broad terms):
a. Elimination strategy: Uncertainty, Lock down, encounter lengthy and uncertain periods of degenerative societal concern.
b. Precision based management: No lock-downs: Watertight border / quarantine management. Open. Precision isolation, management and constant monitoring of target risk areas.
c. Business as usual – live with it – await “vaccine” or other methods.
In all cases, prevention methods are needed - these include measures to
a. Safe guarding vulnerable.
b. Developing immunity in all citizens.
c. Identifying at risk health citizens.
3. ECO-SYSTEM INVESTMENT, DEVELOPMENT & AGILITY:
a. Subsidies without any linkage to regional or national outcome.
b. Employment &or business subsidies linked to school development, eco-system projects and or exportable-industrial projects and outcomes.
4. EXECUTION: Choices for independent bodies to manage the pandemic with the government playing a facilitation role in execution of the strategy devised and voted for, by the country. This would include:
a. Ensuring integrity exists in the strategy; no leaders or members of political parties leading the strategy.
b. Nominated independent representatives leading messaging and performance management of the “strategy”
These are unprecedented times. This is a way the participants and players in a ‘team of 5 million’ can unite.