Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.
Backsliding occurs when there is no progress. Stability does not equal the absence of change, it is only the result of sustainable development. In the digital age, the world is changing at an astonishing rate, and businesses are left with two choices: to either glide on the waves of change like surfers or to disappear under them.
The pandemic has accelerated the cascade of change even more – it changed people, their emotions, social life, and priorities. As a result, the business ecosystem and the rules of the game have also changed, including different industry perspectives, demand for products and services, consumer behavior and preferences, product/service selection criteria, supply channels, brand communication content and style: to put it concisely, everything has changed.
As a result, it is hard to come across a business that does not require a business model or organizational transformation in order to survive or, conversely, to seize new opportunities. The success of a business today is directly related to how timely it acknowledges the need for transformation and how well it manages this very process.
There are multiple signs that indicate the need for transformation in a company's business model or organizational setting. 6 unmistakable symptoms are as follows:
Let us be more specific: if you have not enjoyed the results of your business or the situation in the company for a long time, but despite various attempts, you are unable to change the unwanted status quo, know that the company is in a desperate need of transformation.
Recognizing and acknowledging the need for transformation is a necessary but insufficient condition for the success of a business. It is important for the company’s management team to understand that transformation is so much more than a change of individual parts; rather, the transformation has to be complete.
Analyzing several cases of failure reveals that most companies make a fatal mistake at this very point: they are trying to localize the problem, solve it effectively with minimal costs, or seize the opportunity with minimal resources and outdated approaches. Behind this, of course, are rational motives such as saving time, cost-effectiveness, following a path that has been taken before, the ambition to find the quickest solutions, and more.
However, this approach is ultimately very costly for the company due to it being impossible to achieve large transformational outcomes with small changes. As a result, the company will have wasted its resources or even worse: with the unsuccessful attempts, the company’s management team becomes frustrated, ultimately leading to the shaking of trust and sowing nihilism among the employees when it comes to the company’s management and its future in general.
We have been observing the process of business transformation in ACT for 19 years both in and outside of Georgia. We have accumulated experience and have created a unique model of organizational transformation and management, which we call “the Power of Three”. According to the philosophy of PWR3, the success of any kind of transformation depends on the unity, balance and permanence of these three forces: the power of creativity, the power of order and the power of change.
In the organizational context, we consider three main driving forces of company development and success: (1) vision – (creativity), (2) culture – (order) and (3) execution – (change).
According to our approach, the transformation of a company begins with the renewal of its vision. The second stage of change is the formation of an organizational culture relevant to this new vision, while the third stage of change regards the transformation of organizational systems, processes, and the mobilization of resources needed to achieve new vision and goals.
Our model offers the organization leadership to think and make decisions consistent with regards to these three dimensions: vision, culture, execution. We believe that the decisions bringing the best results are the ones that: 1) serve the company’s vision and main goals, whilst 2) aligning with the company’s values and taking into account the interests of its employees, and 3) the company has to have tangible resources needed for the execution. In other words, PWR3 is not only a model for the transformation of the organization, but also for its effective management, helping the management of the company make consistent and effective decisions, which, in turn, contributes to the sustainable development of the company.
THE POWER OF THREE®’s unique philosophy, model and working principles enables ACT to play a special role in transforming its customers. As a result of PWR3®, the signs of transformation in the organization are clear and visible:
PWR3 is the power of change that, on the one hand, helps organizations become more resilient in the face of new challenges and, on the other hand, boosts their creativity and openness towards opportunities. We believe that along with a sense of the uniqueness of the mission, it is these qualities that make good companies into extraordinary ones.
An integral part of the trip, such as a passport, wallet and handbag, has already bevome the sanitizer and a mask. They will soon be joined by the COVID-19 insurance policy.
This is a new opportunity for insurance companies to create new customer-focused offerings as more and more countries demand mandatory reimbursement of health costs in the event that visitors become infected with the coronavirus.
Most important, however, is knowing how well the traveler is protected from being infected in a foreign country and whether there is a guarantee that he or she will receive proper attention.
ACT, a research and consulting company, inquired about the global epidemic situation, whether Tbilisians are planning a trip and how much they know about the travel insurance conditions in relation to Covid.
The ACT survey found that the majority of respondents (79%) have information that the cost of medical treatment for infection with covid19 is not covered by the usual travel insurance and epidemiological risk is in standard exceptions.
Taking into account the current situation, Georgian insurance companies have developed insurance packages, which specifically removed the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus from the exceptions and offered consumers to reimburse the costs incurred in case of accidental infection with the virus. The assumption of this exception, of course, also affected the cost of insurance due to the high risk, and the cost of one day of insurance increased by an average of 5 times.
"Covid-19 insurance has become mandatory for those entering European countries and the United States, there is a demand, and we, one of the first, offered a travel insurance package to Georgian consumers and partner travel companies, where Covid risk is included in a certain limit that meets international standards." - Tinatin Stambolishvili says, a member of the Vienna Insurance Group and director of communications for the insurance company GPI.
According to Irina Gorashvili, Director of Alternative Channels Development at Imedi L Insurance Company, they also responded quickly to the request and developed a travel insurance package to cover the risks of Covid. However, it is thought that this product is short-lived and soon, with the development of the vaccination process and the cure, the risk of covid19 will decrease and special insurance will no longer be necessary.
Abroad, with rare exceptions, as well as in Georgia, costs related to cash insurance are reimbursed by the state only for citizens and / or persons with permanent residence.
Our first protagonist is a graduate of Business School Salome, she as a responsible citizen, has already been vaccinated twice in the summer. To celebrate graduation, before starting a new phase of life - the first job, the parents handed over a specially designed amount to celebrate this joyful event, and a special surprise - a tourist trip to America, in July 2021. Personally, he had no information about Covid insurance, it seems that no one asked for it and he did not have a problem entering the country at the destination. However, unfortunately, she became infected by Covid during her stay there. Thanks to the vaccination, she got sick with the virus easily and today feels completely healthy, although his travel plans have been turned upside down.
Salome had to stay in isolation for 10 days, where she was required to take a quick test once every 3 days ($ 40 per test), as well as a mandatory PCR test that cost $ 250 on the spot, at her own expense.
It is well known, that while Covid is positively, it's prohibited to travel, than Salome had to extend her travel period, what meant the additional hotel expenses. Also, she had to re-purchase the return ticket as it was impossible to exchange the purchased ticket. In total, the expenses of Salome due to Covid was close to $ 5,000.
The second story is about Sopho, who was also infected in America, found out that he had information from local acquaintances that in case of infection, by calling a special hotline number, the US government would finance the costs related to Covid, and therefore the unpleasant moment during his trip was relatively alleviated. Sopho's fairly comfortable transportation to and from the Covid Hotel, three meals a day during the isolation period, doctor and nurse services, rapid, PCR tests, and other treatment costs were reimbursed by the U.S. government itself. However, America, in this particular case of New York State, is a rare exception that bears the costs of treating and managing a tourist infected with Covid19 on the spot. The main part of other countries of the world imposes the mentioned expenses on the tourist himself.
For the second year in a row, the Covid infection has been raging in the world, and states are fighting it more or less successfully, although the fact is that we are still far from winning over the new virus.
The field of international tourism is one that has suffered the most from the Covid pandemic and is still the most difficult to rehabilitate.
According to the website of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), according to official data, in January-March 2021, compared to 2020, international tourist traffic decreased by 83% due to high travel restrictions and the caution of tourists to protect themselves from infection.
According to a recent survey by a panel of experts organized by the UNWTO, with the intensification of the vaccination process, industry confidence has slowly increased in the May-August 2021 period. Particularly noteworthy is the EU Digital Green Certificate, which provides a common electronic database on coronavirus vaccination and immunity, which aims to promote free and safe travel to the EU during a pandemic. The certificate will operate successfully in 27 EU member states and 16 non-member countries, including Ukraine, Israel, Turkey, etc.
At this stage, Georgia is still in the red zone, which is a specific obstacle for visitors, however, for Georgian tourists who want to travel and are fully vaccinated, a Covid card is issued, on the basis of which the so-called travel abroad is made - "Apostille", which confirms the authenticity and validity of the document. For this, it is necessary for the interested person to apply to the House of Justice with a relevant request.
However, it should also be noted that due to the current pandemic and the rise of new strains, uncertainty is still high, travel restrictions still exist and this is facilitated by the uneven pace of vaccination in different countries.
According to the ACT survey, given the current situation, every fifth Tbilisian still plans to travel abroad, although the share of those wishing to travel abroad decreases with age. This trend is explained by the fact that relatively old people are a risk group for Covid-19 and therefore refrain from traveling, while young people who traveled more actively before the pandemic are now planning to become tourists despite the high risk.
When traveling, to enjoy the news and adventures, health and financial security are paramount. That is why coveted insurance is no longer a luxury and it is a necessary item for travel and a guarantee of peace of mind.
"I want to get vaccinated because I'm afraid to die."
"I don’t want to be vaccinated because I am afraid I will die."
In fact, the whole difference between these two sentences is in one word, behind which is hidden a huge fear and a dark tunnel. This "no" means- to receive the vague, information-deprived fear and let it into you; recognizing people, who speak dogmas instead of sound arguments and emphasizing, that we put ourselves above the public good. On the one hand, there is nothing unusual in this, because man is a rational but selfish animal who once found the easiest way to survive by uniting in society. However, I wonder what can happen when being in a team no longer guarantees survival? Then he goes and starts watching alone from the cave. We have been watching the world from the "cave" (from homes, the Internet) for 2 years now, and periodically, separate opportunities to go out only intensify our natural desire - not to be alone and not to be locked up.
Registered cases of coronavirus have exceeded 200 million worldwide, with more than 4 million deaths. The spread of the virus is facilitated by 1) the gathering or socialization of people, 2) the disruption of distancing, or the attempt of people to be closer to others, 3) the rejection of vaccines, or the non-recognition of science, which is based on a collective mind and is smarter. According to the New York Times Coronavirus World Map, the blast of corona occurred most recently in six countries, including Georgia (Fiji, Botswana, Cuba, Georgia, Malaysia and Spain).
In order to survive, the virus undergoes constant mutation. At this point it is actively spreading as a delta variant, which is more contagious. Mitigating restrictions and resistance to Delta strain vaccination have led to a rapid increase in the number of people infected with the virus worldwide; Including in rich countries with high vaccination rates. However, the main effect of vaccination is to reduce the number of hospitalized patients who pass the disease at home in a relatively simple form after vaccination. This means easing the pressure on the healthcare system, which is a difficult challenge for rich countries and an almost insurmountable challenge for developing countries.
There are currently more than 4 billion doses of the vaccine registered worldwide, with an average of 55 doses per 100 people. Most rich countries have already been able to get full (double) vaccinations for an average of 80% of the population, while the rate for poorer countries is no more than 5%.
This world map counts the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants and the highest rate - 100 covid-infected, our country has. According to the data of August 14, Georgia is in the first place in the top ten of the world rankings with the spread of the disease, the dynamics of deaths is also high. From July onwards, the death toll rises daily or fluctuates above the upper average. In these statistics, Georgia has another negative indicator - only 5.7% of the population has been fully vaccinated, which ranks the country 113th (5.7%) in the overall ranking of double vaccination rates. The single vaccination rate is only 13%, while for European countries this figure has long exceeded 50%.
As early as June, before the US government donated half a million doses of Pfizer to the Georgian people as part of the Biden-Harris administration's global vaccination initiative, ACT conducted a study. According to the survey, every third (33%) of the surveyed Tbilisians were hesitant to get vaccinated, while 22% peremptorily said they would not get vaccinated. If we add to the above-mentioned ambiguity all the negative factors influencing the decision, which the respondents named, it becomes clear that the vaccination process is hindered by the lack of information. Against this background, there is a high degree of distortion of scarce information ("vaccination changes the genetic code", "causes infertility") or interpretation (vaccination is designed to "chip" the population, "5G technology is activated in humans after vaccination), which is experienced by most people.
One in three respondents who could not decide whether to get vaccinated cited a possible allergic reaction to the vaccine as the main reason for the rejection. Other impediments are again related to lack of information - the population a) worries about the quality of the vaccine imported into the country (28%), b) thinks that the vaccine will be harmful to his health (10%), or c) it can't protect/alleviate his condition when infected ( 7%).
More information about vaccination side effects - World statistics and degree of complications Increase in the number of people vaccinated and their observation, successful and recognized vaccines - As it turns out, Tbilisians pay attention to all these factors to make sure they need vaccination and expect information on these topics. , Those who are still thinking - whether to be vaccinated or not.
When filling the information vacuum, those in charge may take into account that most of those who hesitate to get vaccinated do not trust any source of information. A small number of them trust the World Health Organization, doctors / infectious disease specialists and the Ministry of Health of Georgia. Recommendations of relatives and acquaintances has a low rate, although it is slightly higher than the percentage of media and healthcare authorities. Understanding these data makes it clear that people need to receive official information from those responsible in this field and expect very specific explanations from them.
And those citizens who do not plan to be vaccinated in no case do not trust any source of information at all. In communicative language, this means that the stereotypical threshold is quite high and people block access to information themselves - every fourth respondent against the vaccine finds it difficult to name any specific, credible source of information; They also have low expectations of receiving information from officially responsible organizations or structures. However, this part of the respondents expresses the most trust in personal contacts and therefore, it is possible to work with them by activating this personal information field.
The fact is, that our country at this point stands out negatively in the overall ratings related to the corona. It means that something is not going right. Covid management consists of many components, however when we all rely on the main, human factor and the responsibility of each of us, then, the main tool of action again are the people, their involvement in the process and, consequently, the right communication with them.
If we listen to them and respond to the biggest fear in the world - the fear of loneliness, which we have been feeling for two years now, we can build a strategy based on the following points:
Talk to those who are complaining. The logic is simple, it is time to let go of those who categorically refuse and focus all our time and energy on people who are unable to make a decision for various reasons. In total, including these people we get to the necessary 60% that we need to defeat Corona
Use official data as a reliable source for them, and healthcare associates as communicators
Instead of appealing to the pros and cons of vaccination, focus on the knowledge of managing side effects and improving that knowledge.
We must activate the information campaign in the context of recognized vaccines
Increase communication with emotional parameters - give a promise to defeat the pandemic, return to normal life and get out of the cave, out of loneliness. Encourage people to feel - how they can take care of their personal health and well-being while at the same time protecting their closest people. Let's do all this so that we are not left alone again and again near the entrance of the "cave".
As long as the people in charge take care of this, you also have the leverage: if you want 2 years of loneliness to end soon, your share of the vaccine bullet must be fired right now. Even from the "cave".
Adapting to covid-reality has become a necessity of the present. People have to learn to live with it, and countries have to determine the consequences of a pandemic and work actively on it. The sphere of education did not lag behind this covid chaos. This sphere received a rather strong blow. First the learning process was stopped everywhere and then, all over the world had to continue the learning path in a new format.
The World Bank released a special report in 2020 on the impact of COVID-19 on higher education. As a result of the situational analysis of Europe and Asia, the report identified several important problems that affected the higher education institutions of these two continents as a result of the pandemic. It has been found that the problem of internet delivery is equally troubling to people on different continents - low speeds fail to provide a dynamic online learning process, and better quality service is an expensive pleasure for many of them. In addition, access to personal computers was a problem. Added to all this was the fact that the higher education institutions themselves did not have the necessary infrastructure for online teaching, which would have been targeted at a large number of users, nor were members of the academic team ready to fully digitize the lectures. In addition, the World Bank report also states that distance learning is not always effective, especially during activities such as discussions, interactive group work, and more. That is, everything that helps the student to develop the necessary skills. The report also noted that the focus on cognitive skills was often at the expense of socio-emotional skills, which is also a significant challenge.
According to international studies, the pandemic has affected the lives of more than 200 million people worldwide, including more than 157,000 Georgian students. Along with the main actors in the field of higher education - students, members of the academic and administrative teams of universities also found themselves in this whirlpool of uncertainty. Following in the footsteps of the transformed learning process, at ACT we decided to find out how ordinary Tbilisians value online learning and what they consider to be the biggest problem. As the results of the survey conducted in June show, in general, taking into account all the factors, the surveyed Tbilisians evaluate negatively online learning [out of a maximum of 10 points, this impact is assessed at 4.1 points]. Assessing the specific impact it has had on our country's higher education, the answer is even more negative [3.3 points out of a maximum of 10 points].
We asked our respondents what the difficulties were / are related to the transition of universities to online education due to the pandemic. 18% said that not everyone had / does not have access to the Internet; The other 18% cited the lack of the necessary material and technical base for online learning as the main difficulty, which combines the lack of a personal computer, lack of workspace and other technical problems. Among these difficulties, unequal access to the Internet was named as the "most problematic" for 19%.
Chart # 1. Difficulties Faced with Higher Education Institutions Switching to Online Education Due to Pandemic
At the end of last year, we conducted a survey for the United Nations Population Fund to assess the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on young people, and it is interesting to note that similar views and problems were identified with young people directly related to online learning. Young people living in Tbilisi, Imereti, Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti participated in the study. Difficulties with online learning were cited as low readiness and technical problems for students and academic staff in online learning: low access to the Internet and lack of the necessary material and technical base for online learning. The latter problem was particularly acute in families with several members having to study and work online.
Another result of our survey is interesting - according to one in ten Tbilisians surveyed, the transition to online education has turned out to be quite negative for a certain group of society, which is associated with asociality and related stress. 11% of respondents named the lack of socialization as a serious problem, which in the future may create mental health problems for both young people and people of different generations. Incidentally, this challenge was also named as one of the topical problems in the above-mentioned survey conducted for the UN Population Fund.
It is true that online learning has been and still is associated with many difficulties, however, this method also has its advantages. We asked Tbilisians what they think is the positive effect of online learning. One in ten respondents found it difficult to assess this (12%), and 21% do not think that switching to online learning can have any positive effect at all. However, when talking about the benefits of online learning, the majority of respondents identified two important factors - saving time by 21% and protecting against the spread of the virus in a pandemic, or safety by 20%.
Graph # 2. Positive effects of online learning
As it turns out, online learning directly for young people also has its positive effects - in addition to saving time and financial resources, it allows students to easily combine learning for other jobs. These positive aspects of online learning were revealed by a survey of young people at the end of last year. The same study then also showed that because of the advantages listed, the transition to a hybrid learning model was considered important by young people.
Talking about the positive aspects of online learning, young people mentioned one more thing - the introduction of this new format has increased the opportunity and made it accessible to both Georgian and international online training courses. This is an important and strong argument for those who want to learn and develop.
Respondents were also asked what they thought the university teaching format should look like after the pandemic ended. It was found that the majority of Tbilisians surveyed (57%) support the idea of only offline (audit) teaching. However, the hybrid learning format also has enough proponents - 39%.
Graph # 3. What should be the format of university teaching after the end of the pandemic
Despite the difficulties associated with online learning, the idea of hybrid learning is uniquely welcomed by young people. Because the main positive effect - "combining learning with other things" turned out to be quite a weighty argument for them. That is why it is quite natural that young people will be happy to meet the existence of a hybrid learning format in the post-covid reality.
However, despite the positive attitudes of young people towards hybrid education, the transition to such a model of the Georgian university system may be premature. At this stage, the mixed model of teaching in universities is a forced response to the challenge and not a new format of teaching, which was developed to create an effective university education system.
According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic will not only be defeated, but will regain strength by the fall, and there is a high probability that distance learning and work will become an inevitable reality in the near future. That is why, with regard to the future prospects of online learning, the European Commission has developed the Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) for the coming years, which outlines the priorities to be focused on outcome-oriented learning. Conducting more digital specialists, as well as creating user-friendly mechanisms and secure platforms that adhere to e-privacy and ethical standards.
Naturally, all these issues will be relevant for Georgia as well, and we can confidently assume that distance learning will become an essential component of higher education. Only time will tell how our country will be able to cope with this challenge and provide quality education for future generations. However, one thing is clear - the need to switch to forced online learning will at least help increase the digital competencies of both students and academics, enhance digital capabilities by universities, improve software, and create quality content for e-learning. It undoubtedly has the advantages that can be used effectively and boldly in the post-pandemic reality of education.
 Farnell, T., et al., 2021. The impact of COVID-19 on higher education: a review of emerging evidence. Analytical report. European Commission. EU Publications.