How Research-Driven Organizations Become Thought Leaders


What to Do & Not to Do

Here’s a condensed version of what I’m telling all my clients — all researchers who run their own teams and organizations, large and small — right now:

There is only one story for the foreseeable future.

If you can’t be hyper-relevant to it, hold off on almost all your communications for now.…

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Humanity is conducting some gigantic experiments right now — and the biggest might be in how we’re communicating the science of this virus and how to stop it. #Flattenthecurve is the meme, the brand, the call-to-action rolled into one. The universal visual (CDC version, as published in WIRED):

The meme seems to be working, for a lot of people and leaders; we can’t really measure its effectiveness.…

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The Authority Void & How You Fill It

Boy, do we have an authority void right now when it comes to reliable, timely, actionable information about COVID-19. How to fill that void? Three options:

1) Wait for a centralized authority to get its act together. Good luck. As Matthew Karnitschnig searingly puts it in his Politico piece, “The incompetence pandemic”:

From Beijing to Brussels, from Rome to Washington, London and beyond, politicians haven’t just failed to rise to the occasion, they’ve engaged in a dangerous game of parsing, obfuscation and reality-denial that has cost lives and delayed a resolute response.

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12 Resources for the Crisis

It’s a boom time — thank God — for explanatory, research-based and research-expertise content about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. Here are 12 informational resources from the last week that I’ve found very valuable and/or very interesting:

3Blue1Brown: “Exponential Growth and Epidemics” (YouTube): Send this nine-minute explainer video to all the virus-complacent in your life; it patiently walks through why COVID-19’s threat is about its exponential growth path, not the small-seeming number of cases being reported today in your city, state or country.…

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Don’t Be a Riskhole

Too many authorities — mostly business pundits and journalists, but also some scientists, economists, psychologists and even doctors — continue to tell the rest of us we’re misreading the risks of COVID-19 and are overreacting to it in a fit of panic.…

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Confidence & Uncertainty

Information about COVID-19 right now is piecemeal, sometimes contradictory and always at least somewhat uncertain. The scruffiness resembles how research might look as it assembles its models of reality, otherwise known as knowledge.

But research is a structured conversation through the literature, a call and response that confirms advances and signals dead ends in its reality models.…

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COVID-19 and the Knowledge Resource We’re Not Getting

In a crisis, it’s not enough to disseminate accurate information about what is already known and should be universally understood. (Example: during the COVID-19 epidemic, wash your hands.)

It’s also crucial to disseminate the best evidence-based knowledge about what might come next, along with the level of uncertainty about that knowledge.…

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Nefarious? Or Just Science?

Conservatives are biologically and neurologically different from liberals. Science says so.

If you follow politics at all in the United States, you’ll have heard that claim, and even perhaps read about some of the individual studies supporting it. Social or political conservatives, these studies have found, are more reactive to threats, more easily disgusted, more dogmatic and more receptive to authoritarian structures and leaders.…

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Rachel Bitecofer Breaks the Rules

Here’s one way to break the rules in research:

  • Be a woman in a male-dominated field.
  • Have a big, easy-to-explain framework that purports to explain and predict what legions of your fellow researchers (and pundits) have struggled to explain and predict for decades.
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