It’s a small world after all

A friend from interstate asked me yesterday how Melbourne was doing. I had to admit that I didn’t really know. With various forms of lockdown since March and our recent curfew and 5 km limit, my world has shrunk to my house and its immediate neighbourhood. Yesterday, I posted on managing anxiety and the post has received views and responses from around the world. Many of my Melbourne friends responded on Twitter expressing their recognition of my experience. We may be hyperlocal, but we are living in a connected world and coping with shared experiences.

Connected in Community

Community is now central in our lives. We are dependent on others to achieve control this virus. We ourselves are guardians of ourselves and others by practising social distance, washing our hands and following guidelines. As we have seen in Victoria, reckless actions by a few can generate widespread risk to health and life of others. We are dependant and at the same time a part of public health that involves the whole community.

For some this is a revelation and a threat to their independence. We have emphasized individualism in our work and our society so heavily that a requirement to wear a mask is seen as an infringement of liberty. Usually a mask signals the opposite, new freedoms and rebellion.

We are developing new rituals of community that signal our care and concern for others and help bind us together in this time from the wave at the end of our teleconference to new grocery shopping routines. These will continue to mature as our practice of this time develops.

Before the pandemic individuals and organisations could pretend they were an island focused purely on their own outcomes. That is no longer the case and most evidently demonstrated by businesses being shutdown to protect the wider community. As employees, customers and business owners, the challenge we have going forward is how we now think of community as running within and through our organisations. Our employees are community members & customers as well as participants within the internal community of the organisation.

Understanding these connections and their flows out to the whole world offers us new ways to understand purpose, the impact of our actions and how we might execute strategy. Strategy is no longer the heroic realm of smart senior executives. The future of organisations depend on their frontline adapting and responding to community as much if not more as the decisions of the chief executives. The challenge of strategy has always been execution and aware of community that execution is much more dynamic and demanding.

As we start to see the communities around us and around the world, there is an opportunity to leverage this awareness and this connectedness for change to tackle big problems such as systemic racism, inclusion, equity and climate change. That won’t happen with black squares, black and white photos and filters. That change will require us to treat these issues with the seriousness and the widespread community engagement that we have given to public health. In each of these we are guardian, participant and beneficiary for the community and the consequences of our actions reach far around the world.

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