The Insidiousness of Strategic Perversion

    Ryan Babbage

    “Successful businesses face a multitude of considerations when trying to develop concrete plans and strategies to stay current, and advance in today’s economy. Some level of ‘policy intervention’ or variation is always conceivable. Still, it is absolutely crushing for industries to remain positive and ‘on strategy’, when their best-laid plans are made redundant by poor strategic government planning or a lack thereof altogether. For weeks, Victorians have been waiting with bated breath for Premier Daniel Andrews’ plan of how and when Victoria is to emerge out of this deep, dark chasm of hopelessness, but unfortunately, we remain adrift. Having only received a lecture again on why the third wave of infection is on the horizon if lockdowns don’t continue and at the cost of $400 million per day, we remain rudderless – continuing down a path that will be increasingly more difficult to return from…”

    COVID-19 Outbreak - Pandemic

    Good times breed complacency – Tough times breed leaders

    Even the most successful and resilient businesses acknowledge that they cannot be right all of the time. It is the very reason why we have pivot strategies as alternative solutions to issues. There will always be times of uncertainty, where you are travelling down a road that no one has travelled before, and you are in somewhat virgin territory. Mistakes are going to be made when you are the first one to attempt to fix an issue that has never been solved, and mistakes, whilst sometimes costly, also offer an opportunity to learn and adapt from the experience. In times of challenge, great leaders show conviction in their beliefs, seeking the judgement of their peers to strengthen their positions and to move forward in unity. History does not hold such valour for those who seek to present edicts and use their position of power as a thinly veiled disguise for a mandate.

    In Victoria’s case, we have made mistakes again that have already been made by others. We have had sufficient time to reflect on and evaluate, all the other strategies throughout the world that were implemented to overcome the virus and yet we have failed to learn from history, dooming ourselves to walk the same steps of error and misjudgement. Around the globe, there have been serious blunders, and there have also been standout exceptions that have set examples worth following. If we look to countries like Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, they have been able to get on top of the virus while facing more challenging circumstances than Victoria. These cities are densely populated beehives of activity; however, their economies do not shut down when a virus flareup is detected. Instead, they rely heavily on their abilities to contact trace effectively with the aid of technology, applications and protocols that keep improving. They are able to suppress the virus in every circumstance diligently. So why is it that in Victoria, the only strategy is fear and isolation? In comparison, the NSW premier has done a superb job with the contact tracing of her state. As Prime Minister Scott Morrison rightly pointed out, NSW is the gold standard for all of Australia when it comes to the effective management and contact tracing of the virus.

    Another question that should be asked in greater detail is why Mr Andrews sought to sure up his legal powers for the ‘state of emergency’ before providing taxpayers with his so-called road-map to nowhere? Why did the premier seek to increase his powers without adequately explaining why he needed to? If the premier had any confidence in what he was about to present, he would have made it public before seeking an extension to his already onerous powers. With a preconceived notion of how things would play out, he tactfully lobbied for approval before showcasing his ‘miraculous plan.’ The Victorian government activity appears autocratic when there is a need to bring the electorate on the journey, which is probably contributing to the frustration and the protests. There is distaste in the air, not because we do not want to abide by the laws of the land, but rather because the wool is being pulled over our eyes. Moreover, we are being informed that this is the only strategy available by someone who is not strategically inclined beyond the public office.


    When we do wrong from a young age, we are taught to admit our faults and failures and to try to make amends and learn from our errors and shortcomings. Unfortunately, when power and ego become the foundations of decision-making endeavours and the fear to relinquish control is all that is front of mind, we find ourselves travelling down a dead-end road to nowhere, under the misdirected guise of a ‘strategy’. Without a strategy, tools of disorder and unclear messaging are used to confuse and disorientate the masses, instilling a fear that forces the crowds to listen, even though the message they receive has very little value.

    With all the talk of ‘big data’, supercomputing power and the world’s best minds on the job, one would expect that results would be clear and precise. Unfortunately, all that has been accomplished to date is more of the same – extended lockdowns, no clarity and more ifs, buts, and maybes. For the Victorian Government, there has been an increase in pay awarded for the ‘fantastic job’ they have accomplished in saving lives. To the contrary, more lives will be lost to suicide and domestic violence when the stimulus taps turn off than from the virus. Yet, the media attention is drawn to all things COVID-19, when other areas of health concern are taking a back seat. Doctors have stated that Cancer patients for one, are not receiving the attention, resources, and timely response that is required to save lives amid restrictions and border barriers. The ever-growing stress of the lockdowns and government incompetence is going to take even more lives, especially when the government stimulus tapers off. Businesses are already in a zombified state, and the wall of failures that will occur will contribute to people losing their life savings and even their houses.

    There will be a reckoning as there is no such thing as a free lunch. Australia is the second-highest tax collection nation in the world, and the stimulus will have to be returned at some point. Our children will be burdened with debt they never created. Under PM Scott Morrison’s leadership, Australians do have hope. There is someone competent at the helm to steer the ship. However, as every state and territory have their own commanders, the overarching strategy doesn’t apply.

    Biased Data – It’s all in how you ask the question…

    To support his edicts, the Victorian premier begins all of his lectures (via press conferences) by stating the medical reasoning behind his decision-making choices, often with predictable repetition, seemingly more for self-persuasion than the presentation of the facts. There is an art to data analysis as any decent investigator would testify. Data can tell many stories and generate critical insights, but can also be framed in a way that suits the line of enquiry being asked of it. There are mounting concerns presented by other epidemiologists who disagree with the data, or with the way that it is being presented. Which gives rise to the question, which epidemiologists should we trust when there is a conflict between expert opinions? Holistic data should categorise all the risks from multiple perspectives and not be placed in isolation to depict a skewed version of the facts.

    Moreover, the premier announced today that the ADF was running some simulations utilising IBM’s supercomputing platform. He also stated that the product was ‘still in development’. However, it is the very system of artificial intelligence used to produce the model scenarios of supercomputing that delivered the unquestionable results to lock Victoria down for longer. Something is amiss as the data, the science, and the explanations do not add up. Even the doctors express their concerns and do not understand the model. If even the professionals can’t understand the model, then the model itself is flawed. If it takes a ‘Stephen Hawking’ mind to decipher the current Victorian model, then we will continue to be blindsided by those who keep the smoke and mirrors up as an intellectual advantage.

    Victorians need to look a little deeper into this to discover the truth. If you scratch a lie, the facts are bound to be exposed at some point in time. Keep scratching, Victoria!

    Chief Executive Officer

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