Signs begin to appear on the horizon […] but once, we’re in the present, critical thinking is concerned with how rapidly the issue at hand is developing … and how much we have to change to contain the situation or accelerate change in another direction.

** Post is a summary transcript of Dr. LugoSantiago’s presentation at the Institute for Leadership & Strategic Foresight on April 9th, 2020 **

What we will discuss in this post (and the following two in this series) is an interesting discussion. It is also a complicated, multi-prong discussion that is surrounded by a multitude of interconnected parts. Let me lay the framework for our discussion, so we can navigate and make the most out of this 3-part post series.

I have been overwhelmed with the amount of news about the current pandemic. I have also seen myself and several of my friends and family being affected by this pandemic. So, we want to do our part in helping anyone we can, and one way to do this is by helping you think differently about this situation and injecting hope into the narrative we’ve been hearing every day.

Of course, this does not take over what we have to do to stay cautious, but it adds something special to the conversation. And that is Foresight. In this manner, we will begin to see the future with hope, that the future will be full of opportunity. If we can see opportunity, we can shape and grab it for us, our children, and the next generations.

In that regard, I want to approach this subject from the perspective of a leader. This is, after all, a leadership discussion and this is also a global discussion. That’s my framework.

I have found that good conversations become useful from a practitioner’s perspective that is also informed by the academic but is also mixed with the wisdom of the daily grind. That will be our perspective today. Let’s get started.

Part I. Mapping the Past & Present

Let’s start with an exercise I like my students to do. It’s revealing. Many things happen (and are happening) in our environment all the time. The environment is changing constantly, even as we speak. But because we’re so focused in our daily grind, we don’t notice. In hindsight, we see these things. In regards to this COVID-19, I want you to think back.

Exploration moment…

Can you think about the things you saw or heard that were markers of the things we’re experiencing today? Think back 3 months.

Now, I want you to think back even further. Let’s say October 2019. What were the markers that pointed to the situation we have here today?

And lastly, I want you to think about the year 2018. Can you think about the markers you saw or heard about our present situation back then?

Many of you may have had problems getting to examples beyond January or even December. Let me give you some I saw and found:

Example 1: The Biomedical Central (BMC) Infectious Diseases wrote a piece titled, “Clinical Outcomes of Patients with MERS-Cov,” 22 Oct 2019. BMC described the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection as a fatal disease, detected first in Saudi Arabia and spreading as far as the Korean Peninsula. By February 2018, its presence was detected in 27 countries worldwide, with 2144 recorded cases, out of which 750 resulted in death.

Example 2: Becker’s Clinical Leadership & Infection Control reported, in an article titled, “Johns Hopkins hosts pandemic simulation,” 18 Oct 2019 that Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security held a pandemic preparedness exercise to highlight the economic threats of global disease outbreaks.

Example 3: The academic journal Intervirology in 2016 wrote an article titled, “Coronavirus Infections in the Central Nervous System and Respiratory Tract Show Distinct Features in Hospitalized Children” to signal the dangers of this type of virus.

Example 4: In 1997, Futurist John L. Petersen writes “The Wild Cards in Our Future” in which one of his wild card scenarios (out of 12 listed) included a worldwide epidemic of the type influenza that would most probably reduce world population.

The point of the exercise is to let you see how signs begin to appear in the horizon, and how these signs begin to grow into preoccupations, and even trends that we end up being caught up in. Now, let’s move on to our present period, specifically, the last three months.

Now, we’re here. What is really happening? Once, we’re in the present, critical thinking is concerned with how rapidly the issue at hand is developing … and how much we have to change to contain the situation.

Here’s what we see—and I’m sure if you have not been tracking, this will open your eyes to the abundance and velocity of how activity happens in this stage of crisis.

Figure 1. Velocity of Change in Present COVID-19 Crisis

Source: Author’s creation based on multiple news sources reporting facts of the pandemic – World Health Organization (2020), Washington State Department of Health (2020), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (2020), and U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2020).

Thus far, what we’ve done is looked at the past to calibrate our critical thinking. Then, we looked at the present, so we could see the velocity of change. And we can see that the landscape we’ve seen is heart-rending.

But we cannot set our sights on this and forget to think about the future because the future is bright! What we will do next is think about the next 5, 10 to 20 years into the future in a very different way. We will explore that on Part II of this post: Observing Change. Read you soon!

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Always motivated, lugo
© Copyright LugoSantiago Enterprise Group 2020

References and Notes:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, April 4). Cases in U.S: Cumulative total number of COVID-19 cases in the United States by report date, January 12, 2020 to April 3, 2020. Retrieved from

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. (2020, April 5). Situation update worldwide: Epidemiological update. Retrieved from

Petersen, J. L. (1997). The “wild cards” in our future: Preparing for the improbable. The Futurist. 31(4), 43-47.

Washington State Department of Health. (2020, April 4). 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19). Retrieved from

World Health Organization. (2020, April 2). Rolling updates on coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Retrieved from