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Feature Story
B Y   B U S A R A   S T A F F
It's Not Us, It's You! 

Dear 2020,

You have to admit, you don’t have the best reputation around - if this was high school you would definitely be the kind of relationship everyone warned us about. The thing is, though you haven’t been all bad, you have not been a bed of roses either. However, even as you left us reeling from the number of curveballs you threw, you have taught us a couple of things. So, in the spirit of closing out the year, we’re writing this letter as a way of reflecting on our time together, we hope it gives you a sense of why we’re saying goodbye. 

Thank you for the start of the year, as with all relationships, it started off beautifully - in this case with a bang. We got together with MIT and worked on the BeSci in the field course. It was amazing, two nerds getting a chance to teach, grow and nurture the minds of upcoming Behavioral Scientists in the Global South. We can’t tell you how exciting that was. Over and above that, we put our new lab in Nigeria through the paces and collaborated with Nudge Lebanon on setting theirs up. Applying insights from behavioral science to help organizations understand that what people do is often not the same as what they intend to do or say they do, is a big deal for us. #nudgeunits for the win.

Things were moving along swimmingly, but in retrospect we had blinders on. There were rumblings of the year turning but we were optimistic. The relationship with you had started so well - we couldn’t possibly have underestimated the probability of negative events could we? Don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical and you know it.

We got into the tail end of the first quarter and were still killing it, figuratively speaking of course. Then our plan went sideways, COVID-19, a virus that for a while was similar to “he who shall not be named” in that it had so many pseudonyms, until we understood the importance of referring to it uniformly, hit home. It was time to hunker down and batten down the hatches.

We learnt how to be resilient to shocks by adapting and focusing on what matters, the research. Not only on how to respond to COVID-19, but also on how to continue working and adding value to client projects without being in the same office space or going to the field. We started working from home and got close to partners and spouses after a couple of bumps in the road? We’re willing to admit that it didn’t start out rough. Initially, we picked up different hobbies and hopped on the banana bread bandwagon, but inevitably things got hairy. Try working in the same house with your family, no school for the kids or random outdoor activities for the grown-ups, sharing screen time and coordinating the meld that is life, work and uncertainty all wrapped up in one. There is just not enough wine in the world to get you through that!

Our time with you has been a lesson in dealing with challenges, in community heroism, acts of kindness and even ignorance. We have learnt, wept, and grown. In short, this year has been one of a kind. Not quite the glowing referral you would have wanted if you consider the motivation behind the statement. We can safely say we’re ready to move into 2021. Slightly jaded, but nonetheless, still optimistic and determined as ever to forge forward as best we can. 

We wish you well(-ish), know that we will not forget you anytime soon, even if we would like to.

Sincerely,

Busara.

Editor's Note

2020 has been tough for everyone, unless you’re a robot on an industry line and have just been switched on, here are a couple of links that resonate with our Dear 2020 (aka Dear John) missive.

2020 in pictures -  Take a walk down the year that was through the lens that Getty Images photographers, videographers, and editors captured.  The stories and unique perspectives from key moments in news, to the entirely new ways we experience sports and entertainment are all in focus.

2020 in memes - There’s not been much to laugh at or about this year, not only does this link capture it, but it gets you to laugh at everything that has happened so far giving context to the roaring sound in our heads that asks “This year isn’t over yet?”

As an aside, we’re having a party to burn our 2020 grievances. It sounds drastic but like we’ve said, this year has been tough. At Busara, we’re saying #2020Ishindwe! It’s Swahili for ‘Let 2020 Be Gone!’. Does that sound like a familiar resounding cry in your organization or home? If the answer is yes, and it likely is, we invite you to take part in our burn party. Get on any of our social media platforms and tell us what you would like to burn about this year. It could be anything from crappy internet connections to late night anxiety. Whatever it is, you list it, we’ll print it out and burn it tomorrow, Thursday 17th, 3-4pm EAT on a live stream link from our Instagram account. To be able to do this responsibly, we will be planting a number of trees thereafter to offset our carbon footprint - though this will not be part of the live stream. See you there!


Links we liked


As Behavioral Scientists we love our numbers and research (with a name like the Behavioral lens that must be a no brainer!) We also enjoy the insights numbers give us about different topics. This month, take a break and deep dive into some of the links we’ve come across that will up your small talk game during your next Zoom call! Spoiler alert, they are all about the world in figures.


What values matter the most in the world?

An analysis of more than half a million value graphics in 152 languages gives a highlight of the values which are nearly universal. As it turns out Family and relationships are key across the globe, we really are social creatures.

Misinformation and Geography:

Alternative facts in a post truth reality are a hard nut to crack - confusion reigns - does your local context help or hinder this quest for truth? Well if you’re thinking about the answer consider this, if you saw a news headline from a different country, would you be able to identify its accuracy?

All things 2020

To say this year has been tough is an understatement, but from a numerical perspective, the year has had a lot going for it. Numbers have a lot going for them like how they give you a different perspective, don’t say 2020, say 10 x 9 x 8 + ( 7 + 6 ) x 5 x 4 x (3 + 2) x 1 + 0.


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