In today’s column, Jennifer Rubin says that among Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s favorite sayings is: “Public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, you can accomplish virtually nothing.” I think in many workplace endeavors you could replace “public sentiment” with “stakeholder buy-in,” but her original language is quite apt for the situation we face as a nation.
Today I happened upon a recent New Yorker article from which I learned about the Epidemic Intelligence Service, a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program trains epidemiologists to respond to crises. The article notes that “One of the E.I.S.’s core principles is that a pandemic is a communications emergency as much as a medical crisis…There are so many terrifying possibilities in a pandemic; information brings relief.” This article, by Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, is a great source of information. Before reading it, I was inclined to believe that the difference in COVID-19 outcomes on the U.S. coasts was due to a difference in disease strains. Now I understand that the primary difference was most likely in how humans and their systems responded.
A few takeaways from the article:
• Let the scientists lead.
• Establish trust—with the lead scientist.
• Teach and model, especially when guidance changes.
• Avoid politics and partisanship.
In general, Duhigg argues, the West coast did these things more effectively than did New York (or the Federal government). There are other factors (e.g. population density), but these communication behaviors are a factor we can control.
Colorado, which has suffered more than most “flyover states,” had a response that was (not surprisingly) somewhere between the extremes. Colorado Public Radio explored that response in an investigative piece this week.
I know that everyone else is tired too, but watching and interacting with teachers and administrators this week, I can tell you that they are exhausted. This is definitely not what they signed up for, and though they have jobs now, the massive impending budget cuts put some of those positions in jeopardy. They are struggling to reach kids who are themselves struggling to hang on. And they know they may return to similar conditions at summer’s end. If you encounter teachers as the school year draws to a close, please communicate your appreciation to them.
Box 15 in the Advent Calendar is a little snowmobile.
It was by far the trickiest model to build from the tiny instructions provided.
But it’s darn cute…