COVID19 Call to Action
– But How to Make a Positive Impact?
ANR Newsletter #51
We have heard so many times about the power of networks and connections. What a better occasion than to leverage from them when the world is struggling the most.
It is not the first time that the world experiences a global crisis. We all remember the terrible 9/11 events or the financial crisis in 2008 that swiped away millions of jobs in a matter of months. Yet, we have never experienced something similar to the coronavirus. It is unprecedented the speed and the severe impact that it has had across the world, not only on the health of millions of individuals and on the healthcare systems across the world, but also with tremendous consequences in the global economy and society at large. For which its full effects remain still unknown.
I firmly believe that we have a unique opportunity to both re-invent leadership and re-invent project management. That we go back to the initial values and human believes and that we improve them to address the current and future needs of our planet. And the best way to do it is through inspirational projects and strategic initiatives that will help organizations and individuals navigate through the crisis and transform to come up stronger.
Since the outburst of the global coronavirus crisis, thousands of initiatives have been launched, aiming at bringing support to those that have been most severely impacted by the sudden turmoil. Many to address the short time challenges faced by the front line workers in hospitals, pharmacies, elderly homes. Others to support small businesses that all of a sudden lost their revenues and have a few months to find alternatives to keep their businesses alive.
I guess that many of us felt an urgent call to action. I felt one of the lucky ones. How can I help?
Call to Action
Marshall Goldsmith’s generosity and pay it forward initiative showed me how to build an engaging network that wants to help others. He organizes daily calls with his group of #MG100 mentees, where we discuss the situation and hear the advice from renowned experts.
Immediately I thought of replicating the idea and launched a call for action to my network of friends and colleagues. Project Discussions to turn around a World in Crisis was born. In a matter of days, more than 110 volunteers from around the world joined the call for action. Many of them I knew, some others less, and several read the note and decided to join the group. We defined our shared purpose: “to help organizations and individuals navigate through the crisis and transform to come up stronger.”
None of us are close to the healthcare and hospitals, nor in the production of medical devices and garnets. Yet, we have a wealth of experience in leadership, coaching, entrepreneurship, communication, training, and project management.
The Power of Networks
We brainstormed on ideas and potential projects we could work on based on our collective expertise. We came up with many ideas, which we narrowed down to ten. Each of them was taken by a working group, with a coordinator and several volunteers that started immediately developing further those ideas into smart objectives and projects. So far, nothing new, a rather standard approach.
In the meantime, I thought I could ask some of my contacts to help me out. To visit our virtual calls and share some of their wisdom. That would already benefit and impact the volunteers in my groups, which hopefully they would share their key learnings with their networks. Hoping this would create a small ripple effect with their networks.
So far, in the three weeks that the group has started to work, we had the honor to have live talks by some of the world’s most acclaimed thinkers. Brilliant minds, generous, humble, and extraordinary individuals, such as Marshall Goldsmith and Rita McGrath. Both of them provided shared their views on the current situation and inspired our group further. Here are both recordings, masterclasses that are worth your time on coaching and strategy.
After a couple of weeks, the progress has been significant on most of the selected ideas:
- Crisis management and leadership coaching
- A playbook for a future pandemic, including lessons learned
- Project management / PMO free advisory support for SMEs
- Preloaded containers to carry out massive COVID19 testing
- Advice for SMEs on new strategies and business model for SMEs
- Free education for elderly, kids, etc. on security, virtual working, etc
- Join an application that provides free translation to those that need it most
All promising ideas that could eventually deliver significant impact when converted into reality. Yet, we are still far from reaching those that need helps right now. I am thinking about the bar owner close by, the yoga studio, the aesthetician, the freelancer photographer, or the millions of professionals that have been furlough.
Despite being an experienced global group of volunteers dedicating time and expertise to a common purpose, we were not able to pass through the theoretical spectrum. And we are not the only group of “knowledge” workers that are getting together to find solutions to the crisis and help those that are struggling the most. Since the crisis started, there have been hundreds of calls for action initiatives, hackathons, webinars, donations, public tenders, etc. A few great ideas have been fruitful, such as using our phones to track the risk of infections, the 3D printing of parts of ventilators, the production of masks, or the creation of platforms to support the buying of local businesses.
Yet, aside from these concepts, very few tangible things have come out of the goodwill of millions of volunteers.
Moving from Theoretical to Actual Impact
In a sense, there must be a self-therapeutic side to all these millions of hours of effort. We get busy and dedicate time to volunteering initiatives, which gives us the feeling that we are doing something to help. That even if we are far from the front lines, we are somehow useful in this terrible crisis. At least this is how I feel.
Maybe we need to be patient; on the other hand, time is of the essence. People are getting sick now, families have lost one or their full income now. I am not saying we should not think about providing solutions in six or nine months. However, there must be a more pragmatic and prompt way to leverage the vast knowledge and expertise of millions of individuals.
Another major challenge I found out during the process of trying to help and making our world a better and more equal is how to influence the key decision-makers. Governments, politicians in charge of global institutions, countries, regions, and cities – those that can have the most significant impact in our daily lives. It feels like there is a glass ceiling between the millions of volunteers and them. Some of them do rely on teams of experts, they sponsor hackathons or launch public tenders, but these are the exceptions. My guess estimate is that experts like us, the business and non-profit community, can influence the change for about 30%. There is still a vast majority needed in the decision-making sphere that needs to endorse and drive it to make the changes happen. I will talk about this critical global challenge in a future newsletter.
Global Brainstorming and Networking Hub
In our initiative, we will continue narrowing down the projects to those that have progressed the most to optimize our limited time and resources. However, in addition, we are going to test to become a sizeable global brainstorming and networking hub. Meaning: we will invite someone that is struggling with the crisis (i.e., a bar owner) to each of our virtual sessions, and ask him/her to explain to us their challenge. Our group will brainstorm, provide insights, share about similar jobs, see if their connections can help, and eventually contribute with some funding.
To every session, we will bring someone with a different issue, from a different sector/region. I hope this exercise will be much more practical and concrete than the traditional approach we are following. It will just impact one person at the time, and not millions, yet, as the famous saying says, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
We continue experimenting in finding impactful ways that a group of volunteers and experts located around the world, can bring tangible help to those that most need it.
Any thoughts, ideas, different views, and suggestions are very much welcome!
I hope you and your loved ones are keeping well and healthy.
Since the outburst of the global coronavirus crisis, thousands of initiatives have been launched, aiming at bringing support to those that have been most severely impacted by the sudden turmoil. I guess that many of us felt an urgent call to action.
Marshall Goldsmith’s generosity and “pay it forward” initiative, organizes daily calls with his group of #MG100 mentees, I decided to do the same with my contacts. Project Discussions to turn around a World in Crisis was born. In a matter of days, more than 110 volunteers from around the world joined the call for action and started working on 10 ideas.
All promising ideas that could eventually deliver significant impact when converted into reality. Yet, we are still far from reaching those that need help right now. I am thinking about the bar owner close by, the yoga studio, the aesthetician, the freelancer photographer, or the millions of professionals that have been furloughed.
There must be a more pragmatic and prompt way to be able to leverage the vast knowledge and expertise of millions of individuals.
Besides our bi-weekly calls – feel free to join our initiative – we have regular guests that share with us their views about the crisis and the post-crisis world. Here are a couple of must-watch videos from two incredible friends that joined us recently: