We Need to Solve Communication in this COVID-19 Global Crisis

How can we apply the SUCCESS Framework presented in Made to Stick and STEPPS presented in Contagious (summarised here) to the global crisis started by COVID-19?

  • Global event filled with abstract ideas, invisible threats, and uncertainties. We are in deep shit partly because it’s difficult for us to properly grasp the scale and magnitude of the risk and impact. Complex and quite abstract.

  • (aside from public policy and governance failure aka systemic)

  • We have public health crisis, information crisis, communication crisis, coordination crisis, governance and public policy crisis, supply chain crisis, economic crisis, meaning crisis.

  • We’re overwhelmed trying to discern signals from all the noise. Disinformation and misinformation.

  • We’re trying to make sense of it all, make judgements and decisions on what it means for us personally.

  • Now we’re in a global “problem solving mode”. It’s too late for “prevention”. It’s mostly about the cure now and what the impact will be. We can’t deny the illness anymore — conspiracy theories aside (where the virus come from, any agenda on vaccine, crisis actors, fabricated hysteria…)

  • Knowing we have a problem does not immediately mean solving the problem, but we can’t understand something we don’t know and we can’t solve something we don’t understand.

  • One way to help solve / support / make a significant contribution to this crisis is to think of ways to better communicate the abstract ideas.

    • Recommendation, prevention, socialisation, possible solutions / cure, possible impacts, proposing, suggesting. // even these list are abstract. they are nouns. First step: convert nouns to verbs,
    • Coining sticky, memorable, and accurate terms. Articulating recommendation, illustrating the risks vividly and accurately.
    • I saw that one pic from hotman (can’t find it anymore :-/), the scary illustration of the virus. inaccurate but so effective. it gets the job done // can’t find it anymore. did he delete it?
    • Plus that story in the Concrete chapter about The Nature Conservancy.
  • The ideas to communicate better: physical distancing (which was renamed from “social distancing” is an example of progress in communication), how testing work, what’s the capacity, underreporting, fingerpointing, shift blaming, the economic impact, lockdown, handouts (Bantuan Langsung Tunai), stimulus packages, recession or depression, shift to tele-work, how to manage, the social disparity of groups affected, exponential growth, all about vaccines, preliminary treatments, preventative measures like masks, washing hands, hand sanitisers. PPEs, public policy blunders, what medical capacity is needed, process of hospitalisation, ICU, ventilators, what to do if you got symptoms, how to get help, what if your family member got it, what’s the procedure. where can you get tested, what the process look like.


  • What other ideas do I want to get across to the world, and how can I communicate it better?

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