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Is the Corona crisis increasing our understanding of data-driven decisions or decreasing it?

A few weeks down the line of a Corona crisis that is paralyzing large parts of the world, there is an increase in analysis of what this will do to our way of living in the longer term. Many have never experienced a crisis before, and changing behaviours for the greater good have been far fetched for many. Reflecting a bit on the behaviours revealed, it seems as if there are two diverging trends at the same time.

On the one hand, we see people stock up on goods that are not necessary to survive by any means, and for which we do not have any shortage, either in-store or in production. This can be explained by two psychological phenomena that are emotional rather than logical: times of uncertainties leads to emotions of lack of control, so action, even in terms of buying toilet paper, can make us feel better in the short term. The other reason is that humans are pack animals that tend to do what others do. On the other hand, people are meticulously following every single statistic on the number of infected people, the number of people in intensive care, and number of deaths. This may well have emotional explanations but also reflects a tendency to turn to statistics and data to inform ourselves to make better decisions.

The implications in the longer term of these behaviours are too early to say, but it could be that people, in general, are learning to turn to facts, data, and statistics to a higher degree. Sustainability communication by companies is to a large degree still general and unspecific. Sweeping explanations of ambitions to lower environmental impact and increase the good for society is still common today. What if we start to question these generic statements and expect companies to act and communicate their sustainability progressions and targets from a data perspective: how much are they lowering their environmental impact, by what actions, and how is their impact compared to other companies’?

There are companies that act and communicate from a data perspective already today. We look at them as leaders of the pack. The pack will follow, regardless if it is in terms of buying toilet paper or understanding the power of working with data-driven sustainability for the bottom line for the company and for the society. With more and more companies working in a structured, informed way, integrating sustainability into their core business processes, we will have a society more resilient to future crises and hopefully reduce the need of stocking up on toilet paper.

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