Building collaboration in disaster recovery efforts

Building collaboration in the aftermath of a natural disaster is challenging (an understatement if there ever was one). In the January Third Thursday session, Certified SD Workshop Leader Rob O’Brian and Montanan Steve Harvey shared about their use of Strategic Doing to accelerate recovery from the devastating floods in in the state in June last year. The southern part of the state is also the northern entrance to Yellowstone Park – the photo above is one of the entrance roads. For communities whose economies are nearly entirely tourism-based, the fallout was devastating.

Rob has created a consulting niche in this kind of scenario and reflected on what he’s learned:

“One of the things I think is critical is that in a broad disaster there are people that [feel] the threat to the community. They’d really like to see it go back to the way it was. You heard that a lot. But there’s no really returning to that, and so Strategic Doing can help set that higher vision, get people thinking about, ‘What could it look like if we could do certain things and address certain things?’ It creates a broad engagement and it generates that buy-in. But you’re not doing something that’s going to take 5 years. You’re doing a step that can happen in the first several months and then a next step and the next step, and you’re getting by in for each step. You’re bringing people along in that and eventually you get to those longer term actions.”

Steve talked about the work in Montana from his on-the-ground vantage point, thinking even beyond this disaster to future challenges: “I think the Strategic Doing process is an opportunity for people to work together. I see this as a as a multi-layered benefit. Not only are you doing the action steps, the doing part of it, but you’re working together, which creates relationships, [so] that the next time a crisis happens, people know have a relationship with the person that they’re calling.”

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