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  • Ian McCormack

Post-COVID, Awakening

A recent announcement from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and subsequently by the Government of Alberta, has accelerated the transition to more physical interaction being permitted, although with caution and testing encouraged. This has an impact on pretty much everyone, whether they are a business owner, an elected official, a retired person, a family member, or anyone else.


We have seen during the lockdown that most people took the pandemic seriously and responded appropriately to medical orders despite the disruption and sometimes destruction it caused. We talked about this internally in Strategic Steps and my colleague Kelly Rudyk noted aptly that:

All I have read has suggested, and I agree, is that staff are important! Recognize the anxieties of coming back, ensure there are gentle reminders of the proper protocols and requirements still, allow for and encourage the positive feelings of being surrounded by friends at work.

As I think about our clients, colleagues and friends, Kelly’s right. Someone told me that ‘we’re not actually all in the same boat, we are all in the same storm, but some of us have a yacht and some of us are hanging on to a piece of wood’.


When we convert this to how local governments operate, they have their own challenges of course. Not only have most of their programs and services been shuttered for a few months, and their normal sources of revenue delayed or dwindled, their staff have been under the same strain as everyone else in society. How do we ease them back to whatever this new situation warrants? Kelly again commented on this topic, saying

If there is capacity consider an ease back to hours expected to work, perhaps a three-day-on and two-day-from-home? Or stagger your day half-and-half?

While these are only a couple of examples and options, the point to this is that there’s no situation that fits everyone.


We’ve been given a time to reflect on what’s really important; what did we do with that time? I’ve been encouraged by people and organizations musing about the ‘big reset’ or the ‘big pause’, and most common of all ‘the new normal’. There’s an opportunity to revisit what we must do, what we should do, and what can wait. Now is an excellent time to be looking at priorities, whether they are personal or collective.

How do you measure what’s most important to you or to your local government? Resources are now tighter than ever, and they are likely to be so for the foreseeable future. How do you know that you are putting those scarce resources into what’s most important – to the places you’ll get the most value?


I’ve mentioned my new colleague Kelly a couple of times in this post, and that’s because he’s challenged my thinking on priorities. As about the biggest proponent and most expert practitioner of Priority Based Budgeting that I know, he’s really good at getting local governments focused on doing what’s most important and most timely. When it comes to crises like COVID, having a plan ready for whatever comes next is really important.


If you’re interested in some of what Strategic Steps does, including exploring Priority Based Budgeting, check out the services page on our website.


As always, I’m interested in your thoughts about this topic, and in particular whether you see how government operates and what it delivers changing as we emerge from and adapt to COVID in our lives. You can find me at ian@strategicsteps.ca and you can find Kelly at kelly@strategicsteps.ca. Our Twitter profile is @strategic_steps.


We are indeed all in the same storm, and being open to positive, innovative change will help us get through this together.

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