A Disruptive Report Card

Report cards are feedback loops on how well we are doing in different subjects. I thought it would be fun to create a Disruptive Report Card that provides feedback on how well we are adapting and leading in this time of major disruption. You can use this tool to understand how any person, group or organization is responding to the pandemic and civil unrest. Are they moving through it in a way to adapt and evolve? Or simply gritting their teeth, hanging on and hoping the “interruption” will be over soon?

There are five different “subjects” that make up this Report Card. They include:

  • Decision making
  • Nature of the problem
  • Nature of control
  • Quality and speed of learning
  • Guiding rules

To use the Report Card, simply grade each area from 1-4 based on the person, place, thing, event – or whatever – it is you are grading.  For example, you could grade the response of your state government to the pandemic. Or grade a state or national leader specifically. I’ve provided the description of where “1” is and the ideal, the “4.” Most are somewhere on the continuum so grade each area accordingly.

Want to print this out? Download the Disruptive Report Card here. 

1 2 3 4


Set: Once made, the decision stands.


Assumes decisions that change denote lack of leadership or “flip-flopping”


Assumes the world and/or issue is fully known or knowable.


Emergent: Decisions change as new information becomes known.


Assumes that phenomena you are responding to are not fully understood and that new information will continue to appear. Decisions need to change as a response to new information.

Assumes the issue is filled with unknowns and some unknowables. It requires further information to refine and redirect choices.


NATURE OF THE PROBLEM Separate: Problem is seen as something outside yourself.

Assumes we are separate from the problem and  other  focused. “if only ____ would change the problem would be solved.”

Connected: We are part of the problem we are trying to solve.

Assumes the world is interdependent and that solving a problem requires us to reflect on how our actions or thinking is contributing to the problem.

Assumes we all need to change to solve the problem.


NATURE OF CONTROL Control: we can use power or position to control the outcome we want.

Assumes control is possible.

Assumes the system in which the problem is occurring is a closed system.


Adapt: we need to adapt to the situation because we cannot control the problem.

Assumes we have influence, but not control .

Assumes t the system in which the problem is occurring is an open system, influenced by other systems related to the problem.

QUALITY/SPEED OF LEARNING Knowledge is set: Once learned, knowledge can be used to make decisions and develop strategy. Once discovered knowledge doesn’t change.


Assumes the problem can be understood through analyzing its parts, and once understood can be applied for all time.

Active learning is essential: Active learning is necessary to the ongoing emergent nature of the knowledge and understanding essential to solving a problem.

Assumes  we live in a dynamic world, where knowledge continues to be impacted by many other variables that change  what we know and how we think.

Assumes we don’t and can’t know everything, so active learning is a powerful adaptive response.


RULES THAT GUIDE US Old rules that are tested in time: Old ways of thinking are held tightly. This is the way we have gotten through this kind of problem in the past, it will work this time too.


Assumes that context is stable and doesn’t change.



New rules that are related to the current context: Context changes and we need to continue to seek ouT what new rules are more adaptive and fit the context we are currently in.

Assumes that context is dynamic and always in movement.

Assumes the system is a living system, evolving not static.


COVID- 19 As a Disruptive Event

I have been playing with this idea of a Disruptive Report Card as I watch global leaders deal with, talk about, and lead their countries during this pandemic. We have some leaders who think they can control the virus. Their actions and decisions reflect their belief that they can control its impact or make it go away by ignoring new information. They don’t go back on previous decisions.

Other leaders clearly are adapting to the disruption instead of trying to control it. They continually learn and reflect on what is working and how our behaviors impact our possibilities and constraints. They see our human response as connected to our ability to respond to the challenges that the pandemic presents.

If you enjoy this framework, pick you favorite politician, leader or organization (or even yourself!) and develop a report card for how they/you are responding to the pandemic. Share your results in the comments section!