Jen van der Meer

How I’ve Changed My Mind

Published: in Uncategorized by .

What have you changed your mind about?

I’m noticing that I’m questioning my assumptions about people and places as this crisis reaches peak week, we hope, in New York.

I’m noticing people, or places, or jobs, sectors and systems that I am considering in an entirely new light. Some of my long-held beliefs are changing. I’m also recognizing key people and sectors that I did not appreciate before that I’m now reconsidering as I watch who stands up to respond to this crisis. 

Here are my top five:

1_Grocery Stores and Grocery Workers

I never considered grocery stores as a critical element of our health care system, outside of the food desert maps that help explain higher obesity rates in certain neighborhoods. Now, we are all dependent on these workers to stay fed, healthy, and alive. We should forever treat all participants in our food system with dignity and respect. My 7:00 NYC clapping will be celebrating you tonight along with all of our healthcare workers.

2_Supply Chain Managers

I never thought of supply chain managers and procurement administrators as leading-edge innovators. But as I’ve worked with a number of businesses on their contingency plans, it’s those with their hands on the supply chains that have been able to help us all figure out how to keep the lights on and get supply moving again. Their ingenuity has been evident as they’ve adopted all kinds of workarounds, collaborations, and reconfigurations in our health care system to keep PPE and ventilators moving to the hospitals that need them the most. At the same time, they are green-lighting long-postponed digital transformation efforts to bring us digitally-enabled delivery systems. Here’s to the Chief Procurement Officer for Innovator-of-the-Year award.

3_Governor Mario Cuomo

As a New York State resident of many years, I never considered Cuomo to be an exemplary leader. He seemed more opaque and focused on winning political battles. But Cuomo grew up around power and his understanding of power has been his greatest strength in this crisis. You can hear his compassionate use of power in his daily briefings. He seems to know when to show muscle and when to be vulnerable. I hear that Italian American pathos that I recognize in my father and late grandfather. Honest, critical, tell-it-to-you-straight, get-you-the-help-you-need with love and grace.

4_The Rise of the Region

Yesterday a number of state governors joined forces to share their ideas for a reopening plan. In the East, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Delaware are going to be coordinating and establishing the same protocols. California, Oregon & Washington announced the Western States Pact. There’s a newfound recognition that we need to work locally to solve our supply chain problems. NYC’s Economic Development Corporation announced a COVID-19 Emergency Supply Sourcing & Manufacturing effort to get local business to quickly source and/or make needed medical supplies (e.g. face shields, gowns, ventilators, masks, and other products as needed) to support the City’ response. As we plan our rebuilding, I’m curious to see how this regional approach will reshape communities, governments, businesses, and culture.

_My Forecasting Skills

I thought I was a pretty decent forecaster. But I did not predict a global pandemic, complete shut down of multiple sectors of the economy, and potential global recession. More than anything this shock and reconsideration of my long-held assumptions has made me recognize how much my thinking has become ingrained and informed by all my prior experiences rebounding from other economic and tragic events. I shall keep this in mind as I build scenarios for what comes next not based on what happened before, but in how we might collectively shape a more flourishing and equitable future.

I encourage you do do the same: what are five people, or places, or jobs, or sectors that you are considering in an entirely new light? How are your long-held assumptions changing? What did you not notice before that you are now considering in the cold light of the crisis?