Doug Garnett’s Blog


Communication Has Been Our Most Effective Weapon for Fighting the Pandemic

<strong>Communication Has Been Our Most Effective Weapon</strong> for Fighting the Pandemic

On Tuesday I wrote the following my sketchbook:

The Pandemic feels so medieval. It’s hard to accept that in our modern times, a disease of such danger and horrible death can be loose in the world AND that mankind’s only active weapon against it is communication.

With this thought hovering in my mind, I was struck by this morning’s Rory Sutherland article in the Spectator about how behavior change has been mankind’s weapon to fight the spread of the Corona Virus.

Our joint thoughts arrive at truth:

The world is being saved by communication which changes behavior.

Take a deep breath now and read that line several times.

For all our technology, for all our venture capital funded breathless superiority, for all our massive investments in medicine, for all the hard work in regulations and laws of our governments, the fate of humanity is being shifted by communication leading to behavior change — a result which will save tens of millions of lives — if not hundreds of millions.

For all our ability to see the shape of the virus, to analyze it’s RNA, to establish GPS tracking of victims, to build and crunch massive data sets, getting people to live their lives wisely is our best response.

For all of social media’s sturm und drang, for all the “patriots” carrying heavy weaponry at state houses, for all our need for groups of humanity, clear, consistent messages have come through to the vast majority of humanity and we have done well with those messages…so far.

Communication IS the Starting Point of Change

Why does the world struggle to believe that communication is the starting point of all true power — at least the world of CEOs, engineers, technical marketers, accountants, manufacturing specialists and HR? And how would we train ourselves differently if we understood that individual and mass communication are the foundation of a world which both survives and thrives?

Amid our incredible confusion about power, though, communication has caused change:  Over a billion people have made drastic changes to their lives in the span of a few months including willingly entering a time of uncertainty with steps which hurt their short-term economic well-being.

Creating a company valued at billions of dollars? Chump change.

Saving the lives of a few hundred million people? Priceless.

©2020 Doug Garnett — All Rights Reserved

Through my company Protonik LLC based in Portland Oregon, I consult with companies on their efforts around new and innovative products and explore what marketers should learn from the field of complexity science. An adjunct instructor are Portland State University, I also teach marketing, consumer behavior, and advertising.

As a specialty, I also advise a select group of clients attempting to bring new life to Shelf Potatoes or taking existing products to new markets. You can read more about these services and my unusual background (math, aerospace, supercomputers, consumer goods & national TV ads) at

Categories:   Business and Strategy