On April 24th, 2020, the Building State Capability program at Harvard University hosted our fifth virtual discussion with Prof. Matt Andrews, who answered audience questions on Leading Through Crisis.
Read BSC's Public Leadership Through Crisis blog series: https://bsc.cid.harvard.edu/public-leadership-through-crisis.
Katya Gonzalez-Willette [00:00:04] Hello and welcome to Building State Capability at Harvard University's podcast series. On April 24th, 2020, the Building State Capability program at Harvard University hosted our fifth virtual discussion with Professor Matt Andrews, who answered audience questions on leading to the crisis of COVID-19.
Salimah Samji [00:00:25] Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday to all of you. It's been week six that we've been working from home and we just found out that our children aren't going to school for the rest of the year. So we have another seven more weeks of them being home before summer would have officially started. I'm not sure what things are like in where you all live, but let's get started. As you all know, we record these sessions and we convert them into a podcast. The one from last week is already up. Before we begin, Matt, did you want to share anything about your most recent blog post on economic growth, perhaps?
Matt Andrews [00:01:05] Yeah. And just to say we've been slow with the blog post this week, we're putting together an online course that is going to be going live in 10 days or so and we're just swamped. But I have a blog post that I'm gonna be hopefully getting up today with Graham Allison discussing how to make decisions in crisis. He's got some very interesting comments about the United States situation. We talk a little bit about culture. We talk a little bit about how politicians make decisions under pressure, under stress, and how politicians can help themselves to do that. I know that most of the people who are on this call are not politicians, but are either academics or practitioners from a kind of a more administrative sense. But that might be interesting for you guys. But I did think maybe we could spend a few minutes, Salimah, just talking about not so much my blog post on its own, but I wonder if we could have Peter share a little bit on the blog post that he put up at the end of last week after the call we had last week, just talking about the need to be thinking not just about the urgent and now, but about the urgent and important in the future, because I think then it lends itself to a little bit of this conversation about growth. You know, as you say, we've been in this for about five weeks now. I do get a sense from people that emergency craziness is either going away because people are recognizing that this is a long term crisis, which is a very interesting type of crisis, right, it moved very quickly at the beginning. But it's going to be with us for a long time. And I think either people are realizing that because of the time or just because they starting to get tired and then feeling like they've sprinted the first five kilometers and they've got another 40 to go and they wonder how they're going to get there. And I think Peter did an interesting blog post thinking about thinking about what it is we need to deal with. And then one of those things is growth. And so maybe Pete could share a little bit. I could share a little bit about the growth one and I only suggest doing this, because I know that folks may not have seen some of these blog posts and also because I think there was a big response, especially to Peter's.
Peter Harrington [00:02:59] Hi, everyone. Thanks, Matt. I wrote a piece entitled Planning for Tomorrow's Problems Today. And it came from, I was reflecting about my experience with Ebola, but also the current crisis and what I'm hearing talking to people in different government positions around the world. Everybody's familiar with this very basic two by two of important, not important matched against urgent and not urgent and very understandably in a crisis situation, people focus on what's urgent, what's happening right now and the problems that need to be solved immediately. And that makes sense because that's a sensible way to approach the crisis. You've got to deal with what's happening in front of you and firefight, but having a little bit of space to sit back and stand back. I was also reflecting on the ways in which this crisis is going to evolve and how important it is for leaders and policy makers to be planning right now in order to be able to solve those problems which aren't going to surface or really become acute for a month or two months or three months or more. And so that overall message was the importance of focusing on your important but not urgent yet pile and working on that now. And just to give a few specifics around that, I talked about two very closely interlinked, you know, the two main dimensions of this crisis, which are the medical dimension and the economic dimension. And obviously, most countries have adopted a very uniform response to the medical side of this, which is a kind of extreme rapid social distancing lockdown. The aim of which is to flatten the curve and to reduce the number of cases I questioned a bit how effective such a sort of uniform, kind of isomorphic response would be in many places. And I think there has been a lot written and said about the extent to which a lockdown alla Western Europe or America is going to be effective in places with very different living conditions, very different, much more informal economy and so on. But I talked about how that lockdown is going to have to give way to something else. And the main reason of that is because although some economic impacts come directly from the crisis, you know, from the pandemic, most of the economic impacts that governments are experiencing come from these measures. So they are self-inflicted by necessity through the effect that a lockdown has on the economy. And my point was that, in terms of how the economic impact is going to evolve as well and go through different phases over time, and it's really important to be thinking about that now so that when the medical side of the of the crisis has hopefully subsided and, you know, the peak is over or the greatest danger is passed. And as long as the country has the right measures in place to be able to come out of that lockdown, from a medical point of view, it's really important to plan now for how the country is going to kickstart or restart or try and move back towards a growth pathway and to resuscitate areas of the economy, which are going to have basically gone into freefall and then complete stagnation. Just very briefly on that, I think very broadly, and it would vary hugely economy by economy during the lockdown phase, there's going to be a massive contraction, a huge fall where growth will go into negative. You know, GDP will fall. Lots and lots of sectors will have a heart attack, basically, both supply and demand will massively contract. Then there's going to be a sort of fallow period where the economy kind of bottoms out. And what governments do in those periods in terms of social protection and getting food to people is also going to be really important to be able to successfully overcome the disease as well. So the medical and economic aspects are very interlinked. But really importantly, it's planning ahead so that once the economy is bottomed out and growth has bottomed out or growth is at zero and there's very little activity. Governments need to plan now so that they can start to think, okay, how are we going to handle the harvesting season in three or four months time? How are you going to make sure that crops are being planted? How we're going to make sure that tourism, which is one of our biggest industries, actually isn't completely decimated by this. What's the timeline for that? How are current business shock absorption measure is going to make it possible for businesses, particularly exporting businesses, to restart? How are we going to make sure that our border measures and our travel restrictions are going to make it possible for exporters to start exporting again? Just all of the kind of planning ahead types of problems which might not feel urgent right now. But which gonna be really urgent a few months time, which are gonna be crucial to making the recession, which every economy is going to have more of a V shape than a U shape, where it sort of bumps on the bottom for a very long time. I'll leave it there, Matt.
Matt Andrews [00:07:48] Just to build on that, a little bit. The blog post I wrote this week, because, you know, we have a course starting on leading economic growth in 10 days time. And I really did spend some time thinking to myself, is this the time to have a course of economic growth? And the answer is absolutely, because we have to be able to do multiple things at once. We have to be able to respond to the health side and we have to be able to think about what's coming in the economic side. There are other sides to this as well. And I think that one of the things I emphasized in earlier blogs on designing your organization is you need to have a snowflake type structure where you have multiple teams working on multiple things. And I think there are multiple types of teams that you're going to have. And if you go back to even the discussion with Shurti Mehrotra, the idea of having some teams that are just reacting to the urgent today and other teams that are thinking about what's coming next, it's very, very important. And I think most places are doing this. I think that there are some ways in which I would like to kind of advise them to think about it, though. What worries me a lot when I hear people talking about both the medical and the economic side in particular, and I think there's a third, which is a social side which we need to think about. And I think that all of these are overlapping with each other, but they're different is I feel that people looking for what is the plan? What is the way out? What is the solution to this? Now, all of you who are on probably know my work and you know that I don't really believe in one solution. And I don't think there is going to be one answer to any of these things. I think that if we're learning anything from the medical response, this virus is I don't know what is the right word, sinister, sneaky, extremely complex, very, very difficult to get a handle on. And the only way that you deal with something that you don't know is that you try lots of things. And I think that the countries that have tried a good number of things in quick ways and learned are the countries, I think that are doing quite well in this, the countries that are saying, let's look for some kind of miracle cure and, you know, please don't ingest any type of household cleaner today, are the ones I think that are in trouble. This is a process of getting people together, of red teaming ideas, of arguing, of trying, of learning. And it's going to be exactly the same with the economic growth strategy that gets us out of this. The world has not faced a situation like this before. And many of the things that we had in our lexicon of economic growth strategies, I think even four or five months ago have been radically, radically shifted right now. I had a conversation with Dani Rodrik yesterday. And, you know, one of the things that Dani was saying is the narrative has to not be about growth. The narrative from now has to be about inclusion and jobs. That's it. And growth for inclusion and jobs and jobs that are secure. And I think, you know, his comment was, we've known this for a long time. But the narrative of growth has been separated from that for a long time. We've spoken nicely about putting them together. Now they are fuzed because now what we realize is that growth without inclusion and without security, etc., basically leaves you exceptionally vulnerable in wealthy countries and in poor countries. And any kind of virus like this, any kind of climate disaster in the future. And we should be aware that these things happen. They have always preyed on the vulnerabilities that we have. And so I think going to be a lot of thinking. I think we have a lot of opportunity. I think that we can do better with growth. But I think we need to initiate that thought now. I would also like to say I think they need to be economists in those conversations. There need to be a lot of other people as well. There needs to be a very significant process of engaging with people in your context right now. You know, I think I said last week when I've been speaking to people working on economic growth in their countries, I get the impression that it's a bunch of really, really smart and really capable technicians who are sitting in a room scratching their heads, trying to develop a hundred page exit strategy for economic growth. And I'm like, you know what? The people who are thinking about this more and in a more polite way and who are going to know the way out of this because they're going to take you out of this are the businesses speak to them, speak to them, speak to the hotels and say, what are you guys thinking of? What are your ideas? They're the ones who have to pay the bills? They are the ones who are thinking about their livelihoods. This is going to be a much, much more bottom up process than ever before. And I don't think that it's just now. I think that it is going to be the way we think about growth moving into the future. It's going to be we need to speak to the people who actually work here. We need to understand what their challenges are. We need to get ideas from them and we need to run with it. So that's, I think, a little bit where some of the thoughts and I just want to start with it today, because I do think that the message is there are a lot of people who I think are working in the economic growth space. And so I wanted to throw something out that would be interesting for you. These things are not at odds. We need to have teams working on health. We need to have teams working on economic growth. We need to have teams working on feeding people. We need to have teams working on all of those things. And that's the kind of structure that we need to have in our countries. And those teams need to be talking to each other so that they understand their connections. But as a long intro to a potential conversation, they may leave it there Salimah. Thank you, Pete.
Salimah Samji [00:12:55] Thanks both. I gonna start with the first question from last week that was left unanswered and the question was specifically about Bahrain as the economy is slated to open up in stages, my suspicion is that the younger, less risk population, likely the ones with fewer preexisting conditions, will be allowed out first. What will this do for economic quality for middle aged older people whose retirement savings are likely decimated at this point?
Matt Andrews [00:13:24] So I can't answer on behalf of Bahrain and actually just to say their strategy is a little bit different to this. What's most interesting about their strategy is that they aren't saying we're waiting for the day to open up. They're doing two weeks of closure and two weeks of opennes, two weeks of closure, two weeks of openness. So, you know, when people say we need to escape from best practice and from one practice, there are countries that are doing things differently. Model in Bahrain is I haven't heard of anyone doing it now. They just finished today the two weeks of openness. I'm very interested to see what happened when they. So just a few messages that I have received. And we will be updating the blog based on the experience, because this is a real time experiment that I think we really want to learn from. When they said we're going to open up for two weeks, one of their arguments was we don't really know how we recover parts of our economy if they close for like six weeks straight. An interesting thing is they said we also don't know how to learn about opening up if we don't do it in some way and see what happens. But they said if we open up but then we actually say to people, we are going to close down again. So I think what people are concerned about is opening up and being forced to close and that creating even more chaos. I think they are saying if create the expectation that we're going to suppress and release but then we're going to suppress again. And what we're going to try to do is almost have a process where the curve goes like this and goes down over time, I'm trying to show the curve. They said you need to maintain social distance. They had rules for every entity that did open. And those entities had to come up with their own strategies for how they would facilitate social distancing within the organizations. And then, yes, I think one of the things that they did was they identified the most vulnerable populations and they created additional requirements for those people. I am not sure what those additional requirements are in Bahrain. I'm not sure if those additional requirements are that older people have to stay at home. South Africa is doing something similar in thinking about reopening. Last night they released speaking about different areas and different types of people. And I think they thinking about this classification. Now, Bahrain is a million and a half people, if I'm correct. So you're talking about a place the size of maybe Philadelphia. So, you know, one of the things I do say to people is I don't want to say, you know, what works in Bahrain may not work in the US, but it may work in Philadelphia. The thing that I think is most probably limiting about it as an example for other places is that it is an island and it has one airport and it has two ways in which people can access the country. So, you know, that is something, I think, with this virus and, you know, they can control this quite well. When they opened up, they have very, very good testing, wish we all had. They have a very good tracing program. And they had a very good idea about where their vulnerabilities were. So they know, for instance, that there are some places in Bahrain where people work in compounds. I'm going into a bit of detail because I think the question was about a vulnerable part of the population. I'm not sure what they've done with the elderly. But I will give you my sense of how they are thinking about that more broadly, because I think it gets to the social dimension of this disease, which is crucial. They identified where they were concerned and Singapore also did this identification. And both of them, both Bahrain and Singapore, have found that the areas where they were most concerned about, which were areas where labor was working together in very close proximity and living in compounds, both Singapore and Bahrain have had very significant hotspots in those areas. Now, Bahrain are using this to learn. They are basically saying, how do we manage those places? Are those the places where we are most concerned about? They have capacity in their health care system that they can manage the hotspots right now. So they feel that this is not an irresponsible experiment that they are doing. And they did find that, you know, when you open up, there are places where this goes and it goes very fast. Singapore is in exactly the same state. I think that Singapore, because a lot of those workers coming from Malaysia, I think the hotspot is bigger. But so the one thing that I do think is interesting is and I think most of you know about my work, I believe in learning. I think the key to managing a crisis that you don't know is learning. It's not preparation. And they are learning and they are using their strategy to open to learn. Right. Given the capability that they have to manage certain risks, which other countries may not have. In terms of older folks, I think it is very difficult. And in Bahrain, the conversation that I've had, you know, even if you watch the interview that I had with Hamad, Hamad at the end, said it's very difficult because I don't get to see my family. It's very interesting. There is a very strong social dimension to this. In their narrative of this, their narrative has been very strongly protect, protect our elders, protect them, look after them. So they are being very conservative in how they are thinking about the elders. That said, they also have a lot of support mechanisms, so they have an economic side and medical side and a social side of this strategy, and the social side is where they saying how do we engage with the people who are in different situations? So part of their social side has been we identify the issue with workers and with laborers. How do we work with workers and laborers? How do we change conditions of service? They're not treating it purely as an economic issue. They treating that as a social issue. And then they've also said, how do we support the elderly community? I think Olga asked last week in a chat about, you know, technology for elderly people in Bahrain, there is a program in place to provide technology for elderly people. There is a program in place to facilitate communication across the generations through technology to elderly people. There is an explicit program to provide some kind of social distancing, visitation of people in the community to elderly people. So I think that they are trying to balance protecting elderly people with supporting elderly people at the same time. And I think that that's an interesting approach. And when I speak to Hamad in the next few days, I will ask him this question explicitly. What are you doing with elderly people? But I wanted to give you those ideas because even outside of the interview, Hamad spoke explicitly about this. And it's the only place where I've heard someone speaking explicitly about how they are focusing on these groups who may not have the technology, may not know how to work with their technology, et cetera, et cetera. A funny story is he said, you know, there was a group of elderly people who were saying, we usually get together and we play cards. And so one of the things that they did was they helped set them up with apps and things like that. And so that they created a virtual I don't know if they play poker or whatever it is, but I think it's an interesting approach to kind of saying if we do have to be more conservative and slower with some groups, how do we support those groups through this process better?
Salimah Samji [00:20:19] Thanks, Matt. I was wondering, Penny, if you can share how South Africa is thinking about the reopening, at least at the initial level of thinking in that space.
Matt Andrews [00:20:29] What did the President announce last night?
Penny Tainton [00:20:31] So we obviously only had our announcements by the President last night and we have very little information at this stage because the various Ministers are going to be giving us details over the next few days. Our lockdown extension is supposed to finish next Thursday. We're open for business again from Friday the 1st, which is obviously a public holiday, which is a bit worrying because obviously we have some issues around individual liberties that are being restricted at the moment. And the first thing that happened before the announcement today, before the announcement, was that the president has deployed 75,000 of our National Defense Force members. Nobody is entirely sure what the intention is behind that. And so that's something that is obviously going to play out over time. But they are various schedules that have now been published, which obviously break us down into five different areas of risk. We're currently sitting in grade, in risk level five, moving into four generally. And what we're not sure of yet is with some of the epicenters of the virus being mostly the major metros, Johannesburg, Cape Town, are going to be seen differently, but the schedule really looks at level of risk. What the geographic hotspots, what the infection rate is and in which sectors are going to opened and what kind of restrictions will be on retail, what can be sold, what can't. We've had lots of interesting conversations around wine and roast chickens. What movement is going to be between particularly between provinces at the moment? You can't move in provinces other than for funerals and whether that's going to change. But we suspect not in the short term, what the restrictions on gathering's? When transport public transport can start coming back into effect? Obviously, when our schools are going to open? So there's an awful lot that we don't know at this stage. What was done with the initial lockdown was that the various Ministers responsible for each portfolio had to report, and that was a bit of a messy process. So hopefully it's going to be handled better this time around.
Salimah Samji [00:22:33] Great. Thank you, Penny. Alison had a question about resources for counterbias or racism. Did you want to ask your question?
Alison [00:22:42] Sure, thank you. My name is Alison and I live in the United States, in Massachusetts, and I'm in a community that has now made it a requirement that anyone who considered an essential worker, therefore, in a grocery store or a pharmacy, as well as anyone entering those establishments, have to wear face coverings. They encourage that it doesn't have to be masks that they can be anything from the home. And I raised the concern in a virtual board of health meetings about unconscious bias, racism, a particular to people of color, particularly young men, are men perceived as young of color and the board of health was shocked, shocked that anyone would think that. And so I've been desperately over the last 10 days trying to find resources, easily digestible resources there in the United States have been articles, there have been op ed. There have been terrific pieces, but they're somewhat lengthy, somewhat academic. And so what is there, as far as and I know, that you can't undo racism or bias in an infograph, but you know, what is there that could be it that's out there that other communities or countries could use to try to counter? This is a moment where maybe we could get people talking about these issues, but instead we're just trying to save lives. Thank you.
Matt Andrews [00:23:56] Yeah, I think listen, it's a very difficult issue. Just to jump on your last point, you know, we're acting urgently right now. But actually, I think the bias gets in the way of acting properly, too, in many ways. I think the question you're asking and one of the ways that I would try and convince people that matters is these all frontline workers. We want these people to be working. We want them to be confident. We want them to be empowered. And we want them to still be there. And perhaps the potential for any unconscious bias to show up in ways that make their working conditions more difficult or that compromise their ability to do their work is something that I think we should be working exceptionally hard to make sure it does not happen. So I think there is a strong literature that says that unconscious bias is with us. It's in our society. And I think they would probably be ways in which people have communicated that. I think you probably find some fliers, etc., and maybe some people can do some trolling around online. But I think even if you find the materials, I think to us, you know, one of the things when we do PDIA that we argue that matters is if you're identifying a problem and you're saying the problem is unconscious bias, the question is why does it matter? And I think the question is an important one, because it's the way in which you convince the people to pay attention to it. You know, even if you give them a flier, I don't think that they necessarily going to be paying attention to it because they are focused on, look, we don't want to think about another thing. We just want an urgent response. But if you say to them, well, if matters because, you know, this is 60 percent of the people who are working on your shopfloor. And it's really, really important that those people are empowered, that those people are not compromised and they work well. And I think that if you can construct that narrative and say, look, this is not something that we want to allow to happen. And then you have to respond to that, because then that will take energy away from you. What you need to do is you need to be thinking, how do we make sure that it does not happen? And that's a little bit, I think, a strategy that everyone should be thinking of in crisis response is you should be navigating it ahead and saying, what are the things getting our way? What are the risks of things going wrong? And then you want to close those doors. And that's how I would communicate it to them, is, you know, let's not argue about whether it's materializing or not. Let's agree that there is a chance that it will. And if it will, it will be disruptive. So how do we engage with our staff? How do we engage with the people who may be feeling that this is something that they should be worried about? How do you engage with maybe the people who are not of color, who don't think about this? Who, maybe the ones with that unconscious bias and basically just kind of how do we do that? I think that that may be a way to kind of try and strategize about this very, very important topic.
Salimah Samji [00:26:37] Great, thank you. I wanted to open up to see if any of you have any questions or comments, wanted to share how things are working out in your country or your context.
Nicole [00:26:47] I shared it on our What's App group for our Harvard class that was there in February. But I'm from Mankato, Minnesota, and just down the road is Rochester, Minnesota and the United States. And we're home of the Mayo Clinic. And they just announced two days ago that in Minnesota we're going to be able to do at least twenty thousand tests a day. And so I think for the United States and for our population, et cetera, that should be some of the best testing rates in United States. And they said perhaps the world. And so working at the University of Minnesota, the State and then the Mayo Clinic. So that was something that was really exciting at a time when we all need some good news. And it's personally been nice to see my believe my Governor is doing a nice job of handling it compared to even some of our neighboring states that have chosen to not even do a shelter in place. My region is most of it, except for the city I live in and is conservative. And so that mentality of like, let's open and kind of push back. He's been doing a really nice job, which is pretty cool because he is my geography teacher in high school and I used to be my member of Congress. So family friend. And that's when something really exciting and just some good news.
Matt Andrews [00:27:52] Nicole, can I ask you a question? How is he communicating to those groups who are resisting, who do seem to be want to move out quickly? How is he communicating this to them?
Nicole [00:28:02] He's done a really nice job of he's been doing press conferences almost every day at two o'clock. And so what he's been doing is he even had to quarantine himself because one of the members of his security had COVID. And so, for instance, he was in the Governor's mansion doing a PowerPoint. No one else around. But he did a nice job of walking everyone through. And again, he used to be geography teacher. So he does a good job of explaining things to people, using data and to kind of explain and to just really be down to earth and not talk down to the majority of people, but really saying here's how the modeling is going. And then has said we're gonna close schools, we're going to dole it out versus coming out and say we're going to close schools. And here's why. And so I think he's been really wise at using the data first. And then he's also been able to have an ICU nurse who came on and said, "Here is what I am seeing. Here's how you need to understand." So he's been really smart at pulling at the heartstrings and getting the ICU nurse who is a you know, maybe a definitely a mom age, maybe a grandma, you know, kind of like getting people to understand that this is tough. And he's been really honest to just saying this is really hard. You know, we all miss baseball with the things that we miss the most are probably what's come back the latest. And so I think he's just done a really good job of using the data being very down to earth approach and using his his skills as a as a lecturer and as a teacher to to explain it.
Matt Andrews [00:29:33] Sounds great. Thank you. Sounds similar to what Governor Dewine has been doing in Ohio. I've been watching some of his talks as well. And it's I think one of the things that is also very interesting to me is as leaders trusting that your people can handle information, but also packaging the information in ways that make it easy for them to handle. And I think that, you know, those two things together are very, very important because I have been watching some leaders who think they are working well with the idea that you need to tell the truth and you need to provide information, but they provided in ways that are just very inaccessible. And then I see others who I think they really seem to not trust that people can actually handle information. And I think it backfires on them very quickly, because I think that information, in a strange way, even if it's not good news, can be calming for people. And I think that it gives people confidence that even if the ones who in front of them don't have all the answers, they at least asking the right questions and developing the material. I haven't actually heard before the idea of being a teacher being helpful, but it makes an incredible amount of sense.
Nicole [00:30:42] My friends who didn't have a personal relationship, they've commended saying, "The way he explained it makes me get it." You know, I think that's been really important as well as he's been wise to leverage the private sector. In Minnesota, we're home to about at least 17 Fortune 500 companies. And so he's been really smart to make sure that those CEOs and other business leaders are singing off the same page as well as then right now in city of Worthington, JBL Pork. We've had pork facilities that have had to close down for processing and that was their decision. And then for people to see the hot spots of how that has then in kind of referencing that, I think people are then slowly getting it even if they don't want to.
Salimah Samji [00:31:24] Thanks, Nicole. Brad, do you want to ask your question?
Brad [00:31:27] Yes. Thank you. I'm from the state of Ohio, so thanks for that shout out. I'm also an educator. So that connection. My question, Matt, is going off that third circle, the social circle, and in particular that education circle and the relationship of education, economy and wellness at the center of that circle being about the relevance of education and equity. When you think about what we know, income and family stability are strong correlates with education. How do you think this is going to be disrupted? Fields for the future, issues of high school graduates and college students and where they're going. Issues of mental health and social emotional. The school to work relationships and community prosperity. And I was particularly taken by the notion that you mentioned as the economy going through that and wellness goes through that, education is going to go through that and we tend to keep those things in silos. So my question is, are you learning anything around the world and what are your thoughts about how the education, economy and wellness issues can be better connected? Because the schools, the immediate issue is just we're closed, we need to reopen. How do we do it, but the long term planning is, the redesign of education to fit the new economy and the new sense of wellness and wellbeing.
Matt Andrews [00:32:47] I think it's a great question and I think asking it in relation to education is vital, and I think it could be asked in relation to other sectors as well. I think that just the way that you presented it now is interesting is where I am seeing in some cases so in Bahrain where I have been speaking to them a fair amount. One of the teams that is working on the social side is a team that is working only on education. And so this is where, you know, if you look at our blog posts I like the idea of a snowflake model is, you know, you can build away from a nuclear team into three categories. And then in each of those categories, you can have teams. And I think we need to have people who are thinking about these issues on their own, but then thinking about them in a structure that allows that coordination of the force across all of the subject matters. And I think that that may be the biggest difference that we have in the way that we do strategy in governments moving ahead. I think the idea of having a policy about education policy, about health policy, about this policy, about that, we all know that bureaucratically we need that. But we all know that from a strategic sense, it always falls apart. And I don't think it's just falling apart now. I think that in many, many settings, developing policy in that way has limited the impact of policy. And the people who have felt it the most are the ones who need government policy more than others. I think that's one of the arguments that I make looking at poor countries and rich countries. But I think it could be poorer and richer communities, is that the coordination failures that you find in public policy are often bridged by rich people or in rich countries, by the people themselves. They work out how to fill those gaps and make those connections. And I think that the difficulty is in communities where public policy is the biggest game and where public education, public health, the public, whatever it is, public jobs provision, public income protection processes where those are absolutely crucial and you don't have private ways of kind of bridging gaps between them. I think people are really, really left with services that don't connect. And when those things don't connect, it creates vulnerabilities. And I think that that's what we are seeing right now. So what I think we need is we need to have a structure. And this is as much about structures and process as it is about content. We need to have a structure and process where we can have educators thinking very seriously about the questions that need to be asked in education right now. Who can also interact those questions with what is going on with people talking about other parts of society and other parts of policy so that we can walk over to each other much more seamlessly. I'm not sure if it's a great answer to your question. I do know in Massachusetts, for instance, that there are in some school districts very, very significant conversations going on about the interaction of unemployment programs, education programs, child care programs, et cetera, et cetera. And I think that some of those connections are being made in some places more than they have been before. Unfortunately, I emphasize in some places because I think we are left now at the mercy or at the chance that you have two or three entrepreneurial administrators in different parts of government who say it's time for us to work out how to work together, or who have been working together in the past. So that's why I say I think this is a structural thing as much, much as anything else, because I do think that most people in most of our silos, we understand this. We see this. We see these gaps. But the bureaucratic system doesn't allow us to talk together very easily. And if there's anything that I think we need to be looking for now is how in this case do we create these structures that are, as I say, flatter, faster and more flexible. But how do we also ensure that we have those kinds of conversations moving ahead? Because if we can't connect these dots, I think that we are going to carry on servicing communities poorly. And I think that's one of the reasons why you see gaps growing between communities, because where you are really needing these communities to work, well, governments aren't. And it's not that they aren't trying. And it's not that we don't have programs. And it's not that we don't have well-meaning people, but they're not the other group. I've heard from a little bit in the last little while is Teach for America. I know that it has a mixed reception in the education community, but I think the Teach for America is also very interested in trying to bridge some of these conversations. So I do see some people trying, Brad, but I don't see it happening as kind of like a concerted effort. How do we do this in a different way, moving ahead? And I think that that's kind of what we need. We need something that is bigger, that is bigger.
Brad [00:37:27] Just a quick response. I think your snowflake idea and snowflakes that bring together education and economic and wellness voices at a community or state or national level, I think particularly around the long game of those conversations, somewhat happen at the immediate response phase and they'll happen a little bit at the recovery phase as schools supposedly go back in the fall if that happens. But at the renewal phase and then ultimately the system resilient phases, I worry those snowflake conversations will fall, goes back to what we started with about the important and the urgent. And I'm wondering how we can we identify and connect those conversations about things that go from response to recovery to renewal and resilience to really get at system change.
Matt Andrews [00:38:13] So, Brad, I'm going to be I'm thinking about the at the moment, and that's something that we're looking to write up in the next little while. One of the things that I would recommend now, you know, in my work, I try to blend, doing the research, finding out what people have done and throwing that out. And also just trying stuff. And what I would try right now for you is if you have a snowflake and people all working with that right now and they working on the urgent thing of now quite well together, I would say this is the time to try and say to them, can we also start working on our thoughts about renewal now together? Because if that urgency that we have now that has brought us together is still here. And as I say, this is a very strange crisis because even renewal is an interesting thing for me. I don't know when we get there. And I think that blending the response and blending the exits, those two things are not going to be separated. But I would use the urgent time now to say, look, if we have a snowflake, why don't we put some people to work on thinking about the renewal now in exactly the way that we are thinking about the response. How do we think about our strategy? And that's very much what Peter was suggesting, is, you know, we need to have teams that are building teams as well as teams that are responding teams. And perhaps if you start the conversation now, you start to build the relationships that can carry you forward into the future rather than waiting for that time, because you are right. One of the things that we find mostly in crisis response is that we learn very poorly from crises, because by the time people come to that point of learning, they are exhausted and they just want to get out of it. And so all of the kind of urgency and all of the working together, it kind of falls away. And I think we have a really great opportunity to maybe initiate those conversations now. That's one suggestion that I would I would try and put off that.
Salimah Samji [00:39:56] Great. Thank you. Well, thank you very much for joining us today. We had one question that was in the chat window from Claudia in Italy, but we'll take that as our first question in our next week session. Thank you for joining us. I always learn so much from these conversations.
Katya Gonzalez-Willette [00:40:14] To learn more about the Building State Capability program's, Public Leadership through Crisis blog series, visit www.bsc.cid.harvard.edu/public-leadership-through-crisis. Thank you for listening.