Targeted Solutions For Global Problems

By: Joanna E. Starek

Covid-19 is dramatically revealing that we are a globally connected world. While ramifications of the spread of a virus are felt globally, the solutions will need to be targeted and enacted at the local level. Placing the entire world under quarantine is a good crisis response, but it is not a solution. 

Currently, local governments are defaulting to the lowest common denominator. With no overarching plan, they are using one solution for all populations (e.g., keep everyone home or pay everyone in the U.S. $1,000 to help with bills). Although that might be the right initial reaction, ideally the next round of problem-solving will bring more targeted solutions. In crisis scenarios, the best leaders know how to shift resources quickly to the right places. They do not equally resource all parts of their business or organization. Rather, they quickly analyze the problem and focus time, attention, and money toward the core of the issue. If you apply that thinking to public health, a targeted solution could be to provide extra resources to healthcare providers and community leaders for rapid testing, rapid isolation, and care for those infected with Covid-19 while ensuring extra caution with the most vulnerable populations.

For business leaders, it is worth asking what targeted measures they can take to provide financial stability and liquidity to last through the crisis. Namely, can you retain parts of the business and keep everyone healthy without shutting everything down? For example, imagine you are a CEO of a retail organization with stores and distribution across the globe. You closed your stores and your offices and now are faced with closing distribution centers. Once you close distribution, you hemorrhage even more cash and will be faced with an inability to keep people on payroll. Are there ways to safely keep distribution centers open so you can keep people employed? What can we learn from industry sectors like food and grocery that are already tackling this problem? There have to be solutions that can protect both the physical health of employees while maintaining business continuity. But it won’t be the same one for every company nor every part of the country. Work with your teams and find ways to think outside the box. 

  • What do you have control of?
  • What assumptions are you making?
  • What would you do if you give yourself permission not to run your business the way you always run it?
  • What parts of your business can be done remotely?
  • What environments can be isolated so that healthy people can be safely brought together?
  • What personal sacrifices can we make for the good of the whole?

Think targeted. Think local. Take care of those around you, and we can slowly lift out of this crisis.

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