As the world holds it collective breath and faces the fear and uncertainty of a “silent enemy” that has turned the world upside down, companies have had no choice but to develop work-from-home structures to keep their organizations running and support employees as they follow social distancing guidelines. Over half of U.S. employees (75 million workers) hold jobs and have responsibilities that could be performed, at least in part, from home. Most of us would never have said we could function alone in our living room…but it turns out that we can. We keep hearing the phrase, “no one ever thought this could happen”…but of course people have been thinking of these things for a long time.
Before the pandemic and subsequent government requirements mandated us to be at home, only 4% of the workforce actually worked from home. And before the devastating pandemic, although 70% of employers would offer work at home options to some employees, only 7% offered it most of their employees. Likely, now that the world has been working from home in mass, things are going to change. We are not as convinced that we need to sit together to be effective. There is something incredibly scary about that realization…particularly if it is true!
Folks that have been thinking about whether working at home is functional are as shocked as we are that around the globe, within just a few months, over a billion people have functioned from home…running businesses, doing their jobs, ordering food…basically every facet of life, it turns out, is accessible from home… once the misery is over…will this be a tipping point? A new normal? Are the futurists who dreamed of these days ready for the reality?
The only way to successfully drag ourselves out of this disaster is with courage. The courage to lead when we know how, the courage to follow the right leaders and the courage to persevere. Courage will define whether we are successful. The new normal is also going to require us to become even more innovative. The only business culture that will have even a chance of survival shift will demand a commitment to creating a culture where individuals are more empowered to contribute to the overall mission of the organization by speaking up and being heard.
If ever someone skated to the puck and wrote about the tools and ideas for tomorrow’s challenge, without actually knowing that tomorrow would become today overnight, it is this episode’s guests. Karin Hurt and David Dye have written about their approach to organizational success: A Courageous Culture. According to Karin and David, there is a breakdown in organizations that stifles innovation. Employees have ideas and leadership is interested in these ideas but somehow, there is a disconnect. Karin and David believe that the collective effect of thousands of small opportunities missed because employees didn’t speak up when they realized something wasn’t working or didn’t share an idea because they worried that it might not be a good one, creates opportunities for failure. They believe that eliminating the safe silence that results from not speaking up and not contributing to the mission of the organization can help organizations thrive and innovate. Perhaps working from home will empower the silent innovators into active participation?
Just before the CIVID-19 pandemic paralyzed the world, Innovation Unleashed had the opportunity to sit down with Kristen Finne, the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, emPOWER Program in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. At that time, we were not yet talking about this specific disease outbreak but we were talking about Kristen’s work as one of the dedicated public servants who work around the clock to ensure that, for example, our health care system can respond to a sudden tidal wave of need. Preparing for how such events might impact the old, frail, and disabled communities. She is one of the people that we rely on in an emergency, but who we hope we never need.
The relevancy of what was discussed with Kristen, on that day, has certainly taken on new meaning and significance for all of us as we are sheltered at home deciding about the right timing for returning to work and life with COVID-19 as part of our new normal.
Health officials, health care providers, emergency managers, and first responders have always worried that they did not have access to enough accurate information that could help them respond to the needs of at-risk populations in their communities. So, just a few years ago in the US the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response was established by the Federal Government to make sure we were ready. The emPOWER Program was launched to get the data to the right people at the right time. And we are talking about a lot of data and the skills to understand what it means before and after a disaster. Public health stakeholders can now use the program’s national, data-driven tools to support targeted emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation activities for more than 4.1 million at-risk Medicare beneficiaries.
This kind of massive data mining and essential information delivery does not just happen. The need was urgent for a long time before the innovations necessary to respond effectively. What were the challenges in gathering the information? How did politics impact the data science? Where were the biggest gaps in knowledge? What can be learned from the barriers to progress to speed responses in the future? One of the best ways to get answers to those and other compelling questions would be to go right to the top.
In this episode, Kristen describes how she spends her days assessing disaster-induced stress on the health care system and develops interventions to mitigate health system surge and adverse health outcomes for at-risk populations. Kristen leverages federal health and innovation technologies to provide Medicare data, maps, tools, training and products to inform and support federal-to-community level emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation activities for electricity and healthcare dependent beneficiaries that live independently and may be adversely impacted by a disaster.
It is an understandably frightening time for all of us because nothing like this has happened in our lifetime.
The measures we are taking are unprecedented in recent history - -hospitals are overwhelmed, businesses are being categorized as life-sustaining/essential businesses or non-essential businesses, people are quarantined, schools are closed, sports teams aren’t playing, vacations are canceled, family gatherings rescheduled. Businesses and individuals are being faced with the decision to weigh risk based on personal harm and the greater good.
It is a time where we need trusted leadership. Yet at a time when we need to have trust we don’t. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that despite a strong global economy and near full employment before the pandemic, none of the four societal institutions that the study measures—government, business, NGOs and media—is trusted. Government, more than any institution, is seen as least fair; 57 percent of the general population say government serves the interest of only the few, while only 30 percent say government serves the interests of everyone. Edelman explains that the cause of this paradox can be found in people’s fears about the future and their role in it, which are a wake-up call for our institutions to embrace a new way of effectively building trust: balancing competence with ethical behavior.
The guest on today’s episode is Dr. Jessica Foster. She’s a Partner with RHR International and serves as Global Leader for the company’s Executive Bench practice area. She is an expert at recognizing, developing and positioning executives for leadership roles.
Jessica is an industrial psychologist and previously served as a professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Purdue University. Her research, teaching, and speaking engagements are focused in the areas of employment testing, gender and leadership, executive performance and emotional regulation, and work-life balance. Jessica received her doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology from Rice University in Houston, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Davidson College in North Carolina.
With global population on track to reach 10 billion within a few decades, and with travel and trade steadily intensifying across the world, the spread of many types of infectious disease (like the Flu and worse) is a real and increasing threat to global health.
Rapidly detecting, reporting, and responding to infectious disease occurrence is required to contain small outbreaks before they have the opportunity to spread into a regional epidemic or become a global pandemic threat. The Flu is the most likely infectious disease to cause a severe pandemic. The chances of a devastating outbreak may seem slim, but the level of devastation if it occurred is almost unimaginable. Every year there is about a 1% chance that an influenza pandemic could emerge…and that if it did it would cause more than 6 million pneumonia and influenza deaths globally. Flu pandemics have happened before…we are just waiting for the next one to arrive. But fortunately, some innovators are solidly focused on how to detect the problem so that the impact could be controlled.
Our safety and the rapid detection of infectious disease depends on effective disease surveillance systems gathering data from multiple sources and places. Equally important is how fast a system can detect a threat of disease to prompt earlier response and the best chances for protecting all of us from the spread of illness and potential death.
On this episode, Kevin Hutchinson, will share how he has spent his career gathering and analyzing data and working alongside health organizations to monitor and identify possible health threats.