To recap…in March we were standing in sunlight on the riverbank seeing the possibility of spring.   2020 was to be a good year…I remember hearing the first bird and wondering about Wuhan.   BAM! We are all neck-deep in frigid water. There is thick fog, impossible to see; hear yelling…unable to move.

Fast forward…still in frigid water but we have gotten wet suits and masks.  Still uncomfortable…able to move about sort of.  Then our protagonist, the fair-haired lad is in the crow’s nest of a sailing ship; he scans the horizon and screams Land HO!  Ship arrives to the shores of the Land of Opening Up. A rowboat is sent to shore.   As they land on the shore, our lad and the crew are hit simultaneously with a hurricane and an earthquake.  George Floyd has been killed.

Present time…our fair-haired youth is in front.  He is wary….it has not been an easy trip since being trapped by the hurricane and earthquake.  From the beach there were cliffs.  From there they descended into the impenetrable jungle filled with unfamiliar sounds.

Our hero and the crew now find themselves in a dark jungle.  There are sporadic splashes of sunlight; sticky hot, horribly humid, mosquitos hum and bite. Sweat drips from the faces of the crew. They are a disheveled and ragged group of explorers – business people with machetes hacking their way through the Land of Opening Up . 

As I am out and about and on my myriad of Zoom sessions and phone calls, I am seeing a vast disparity in how businesses are emerging from lock down and moving about in the Land of Opening Up. I have been amazed at the variety of reactions that organizations and executives have to these times and challenges.

One inspiring example is one of our client’s decided to do a customer service pulse survey with their customers to get feedback on how they were doing.  This firm rents uniforms and mats and has been regularly delivering and washing all through the pandemic.  They have maintained rigid protocol around Covid and no one has gotten the virus.   This is amazing since they are out and about in Chicagoland and suburbs and their delivery drivers come in contact with hundreds of customers a day. 

This pulse survey is done over the phone by a third party.  There was concern that their customers would be miffed about being interrupted during this crisis.  To our surprise this firm got the highest response rate ever with no issues or complaints.  They got the highest customer rating that they ever have received over the five years that they have done similar studies.  The feedback was highly positive. In addition, during this time, this company did a price increase with very little pushback.  WOW!

Another client produced a moving video about how members of their employee community have been affected by Covid.  The video was produced by internal resources and it was very simple.  People from all areas were featured.  The stories were so real and compelling that by the end of the video I was crying.  The message is: we need to come together, to stay safe and healthy by wearing masks, and taking the virus seriously so that as a community we can keep working.   Inspiring! 

Then there is the company in the outer suburbs of Chicago.  They perform a manufacturing service.  There is a lot of hustle and movement.  People are moving about and at times working close to each other. When I visited, of the myriad of employees I saw, only the old guy and the one who was driving a forklift had masks.  Everyone else, forget about it.  Customers and the people at the reception desk mask-less.  I was shocked.

At my Michigan Honda dealer in the Service Department no one is wearing a mask.  Masks are mandatory in Michigan.  When I asked about this, I was told that they were hot and uncomfortable.  I did not know what to say.

In talking to a client in Toronto, they said that there were nine Covid cases yesterday in Toronto and their schools are opening in September.  That day, Illinois had fifteen hundred cases.  Our school openings are in chaos.  Typically, I keep everything in an empowering context; however, here I lost it.   At the end of this  conversation I was pissed.  My anger is how I, you, us, and him are managing this virus. 

In June I was optimistic.  I thought we would be able to start recovering and get on firm ground.  Then spiking occurred.  Spikes in the number of cases happened around us in Indiana and Wisconsin, this impacted Illinois and Michigan. 

Our own behavior at bars, parties, and large gatherings shot us in the foot.  To my surprise the uncertainty continues and we are stumbling around.  While there is progress it is so slow…..some leaders don’t get that until you control Covid you can’t open the schools.   We are in the jungle hacking our way through. 

A well-known presenter – the president of Coca Cola – reached for a glass of water with sand on the bottom. He pronounced that there was a pattern of grains of sand at the bottom of the glass.  Shaking the glass, the water got murky and lost its clarity.

The presenter then stopped shaking the glass of water.  At one point the water was clear again only there was now a new pattern of sand at the bottom of the glass. The presenter said to get change you have to first disrupt and shake to disturb the sand. Our water is shaking, and our sand is disrupted.  We are in the middle of this disruption – a new world emerges. 

The lesson I am getting is that we are connected.  What happens in Wuhan comes here to Three Oaks Michigan.  Not wearing masks over there impacts school openings over here.   Police brutality in Minneapolis and Englewood cause riots in the high rent retail district of Michigan Avenue.  We are connected and this is not a concept.   We are in this together and will get out of it together.

The  email signature of a client says it the best…

Wear a mask when you are out in public spaces and stay 6’ apart from others whenever possible.  Your compliance with these simple requests saves yours and other people’s lives, supports opening the schools and gets the economy back and  healthy.

We made this part of our signature.   I request you make it yours.  We are in this together and will get out of it together. A new world emerges.   Let me know of your adventures in the Land of Opening Up – I’m eagerly waiting to hear them.