A risk that is hard to see, highly uncertain, can act in different ways, and can have a huge impact on society. COVID19? Yes…but also Terrorism.
How does the government communicate about the terror threat? With a multi-hued gauge that summarizes where we stand.
We need the same – and more – for COVID19.
As a resident of Michigan who has just found out that the lockdown will continue for 2 more weeks – despite what seems to me a number of factors that point to reopening the economy sooner rather than later – I am frustrated because I don’t understand what is driving our governor’s decision-making.
And in that, there is a leadership lesson for us all – and one that small business has helpful tools to deal with.
What would I do if I were the governor of Michigan and had to communicate about my decision-making?
First, small business leadership is instructive in this instance because it is used to making important decisions with limited data. Though the scale of government means that it should be managed more like a large business most of the time, during times of great uncertainty, the tools that small business uses to communicate are especially helpful because there isn’t a lot of data.
First, the Progress Scale shown at the top of this post is what I would use to evaluate where things stand in different aspects of the situations.
(In case you’re not familiar with the term, Generative means that things are getting better than we’re used to.)
Second, here’s the Dashboard that I would put together for a weekly report to my constituents.
And here it is with the major parts explained…
Defines the 4 areas that need to be balanced: COVID19 itself, Public Health, Economic Health, and Social Health
Provides a quick snapshot of where we are, have come from, and are going
Provides highlights that are influencing the decision making
Educates about the complexity of the situation, and how choices are being made to balance different interests
In a big company, this would be data-driven (Gov Cuomo of New York has been showing a lot more data, but I haven’t seen anything like that in Michigan). But in small companies, decisions are based on subjective feelings – in a good way. Much of small business decision-making is about judgment with incomplete data. Just like governors’ decision-making is these days.
In an environment in which decisions are based on judgment more than data, it is critical that that judgment be explained with some kind of framework that makes the implicit thinking explicit. Judgment without description is just opinion, and if you take away people’s freedoms based on what appears to be opinion, well…I’m sure you’ve seen the news from the Michigan state capitol recently.
A leader who is relying on judgment must describe (a) what matters, and (b) how facts are being evaluated.
Governors, hit me up if you want to take a page out of the small business leadership book and start using a dashboard like this. I’m glad to send you the PPT file I have so you can customize it :)
PS – I know I didn’t talk about the “Personally-decided” v “Publicly-decided” in the Progress Scale at the top of the page, but I think you get the idea. If things are seriously off track, central management takes over. If things are going fine…decisions are left to personal preference.