2020 – a big year for lessons learned

It is not a year that anyone wants to repeat, but it has been a useful learning exercise for organisations, sectors and governments across the globe.

2020 is a year that few of us will forget. It has seen the demise of several major high street brands, an aviation sector teetering on the brink, supermarket shelves stripped bare, theatres closed and the hospitality industry struggling for survival. Yet, 2020 is also the year in which people clapped on their doorsteps for NHS employees; when delivery drivers, supermarket workers and teachers gained newfound respect for the work that they do; and when people rushed to help their neighbours and the community around them in a spirit of pulling together little witnessed since World War II.

It is not a year that anyone wants to repeat, but it has been a useful learning exercise for organisations, sectors and governments across the globe. In the UK, for example, the National Health Service (NHS) long considered by many to be unwieldy and slow to change. has witnessed rapid and significant change in the health care sector triggered by the pandemic. The lessons learned, and still being learned, will influence the shape of the NHS in years to come. There is similar learning in many other sectors.

At the Institute we moved quickly to capture the lessons learned from our response to the pandemic. We have considered the many adjustments and adaptations made to ensure that we could maintain our service to members.  Some are of temporary value but many will result in improvements which will provide a long-term benefit to our members, students, employees and our wider stakeholder group.

Taking the time to evaluate what is happening and what can be learned can be challenging when in the midst of a full-blown crisis, but the importance of building resilience and learning lessons is clear if you are to change negative outcomes into positive ones. This year has offered up a whole plethora of stressful and adverse situations, from school closures to physical distancing and job losses. People manage stress and adversity in different ways as do organisations. Some have fared better than others. As an Institute, we are enormously grateful for the support and loyalty that we have received from our membership. 2020 has provided us with intense training in building resilience, opportunities to demonstrate our commitment and agility and we are confident that this will stand us in good stead for 2021 and beyond.

Sara Drake, Chief Executive, ICSA: The Chartered Governance Institute

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