I just heard Obama’s endorsement of Joe Biden. As someone with a strong thirst for sanity, reason, and humanity during these confusing and frightening times, the former President’s words were akin to seeing an oasis in a desert storm. Obama spoke of reason, grace, empathy, respect, dignity and science. He talked about the importance of having a team on the ground with knowledge and expertise in governing.
If nothing else, this pandemic has taught us how small our world is. How the actions of one person can affect millions—that at the end of the day we are all in this together. It sent chills through me listening to Andrea Bocelli sing Amazing Grace at the Duomo in Milan while seeing the empty streets of Paris, Rome, London, and New York.
Like many of us, I am weary of finger-pointing, arrogance, lies, incompetence, and self-serving rhetoric. It’s ugly and, as my mom used to say, “singularly unattractive and unbecoming behavior.” The level of animosity between the press and the President during these daily briefings is close to horrifying. Neither side is perfect. Neither side is innocent of twisting facts and figures. I stopped listening because I heard little information that would lead to solving the current international crisis. Blame China. Blame the World Health Organization. Blame the governors. Blame GM. Blame 3M, and on and on.
When I was in consulting, I was a huge advocate for “diversity of thought.” I loved having a variety of deep expertise on my team: communications, logistics, data analytics, technology, operations, strategy. When a multi-disciplinary, multi-generational team was assembled, amazing things happened. So many perspectives were considered. So many ideas that had not originally been put on the table were discussed. Nuggets of gold would emerge. It was exhilarating. Rules applied that no idea should be summarily dismissed without at least weighing its value, its practicality and its possibility for solving a problem. Such an environment spawns creative genius. Bringing in experts from within and outside organizations with different perspectives, priorities, and points of view is a good thing.
I assume that somewhere out there such brainstorming is going on around a vaccine for the pandemic–for how to get the country back to work; how to identify a future pandemic as early as possible and take more precautionary steps. I have read about various hospitals and research facilities putting together such teams. But we need more brainstorming and more cross-pollination of ideas from different milieus.
I loved hearing about Governor Cuomo’s Northeastern governor swat team that is working together to figure out next steps once the curve is flattened. About Google and Amazon working together to perfect Covid-19 contact tracing. This is no time for partisan politics, for commercial competition, for hunches, for lashing out and bringing up ancient history to suit your own campaign as opposed to solving this global crisis.
We are so much better than this as a nation. You see it in the heroic acts of healthcare workers, first responders, grocery clerks, delivery people—the list goes on. Let’s celebrate our heroes and applaud their immense sacrifices. Let’s encourage scientists and doctors and data analytics experts and technologists and logistic specialists to submit ideas that can help us develop solutions to our current problems and prevent future occurrences. Let’s all put our thinking caps on and strive to find pieces in this incredibly complex puzzle.
In the last stanza of Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot, says:
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
Perhaps this is a day of reckoning for all of us. And we can know for the first time that together each one of us can be part of a greater solution.
Maria Grant served as Principal-in-Charge of the Federal Human Capital practice of Deloitte Consulting. Since her retirement from Deloitte, she has focused on writing, music, reading, travel, gardening and nature.