Lessons From a Crisis—Getting Through Coronavirus

Without the power of a collective effort, I’m afraid we’ll still be talking about these issues in 10 years' time or longer

April 1, 2020
rowing crew all pull together to row in unison for a team effort
The novel coronavirus outbreak is testing our society. We can only get through this if we're united. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Stephen Edmonds CC share-alike unported 3.0

As I write this, the world as we know it has changed, at least for the time-being, thanks to the extraordinary (and completely appropriate) measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 (corona) virus in the U.S. and abroad.

Everything seems to be in flux, from travel to toilet paper, and despite early hopes that closures and suspensions and social distancing—but not hand washing!—might be reevaluated and perhaps eased by the first of April, when this column will appear, that timeline is already certain to be extended. And with it, the very real impact of the virus and its ripple effects on nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives.

 

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I want to pause here to be clear: The lives of those suffering or who have died from contracting this virus far outweigh any financial hardships those of us who are healthy may experience during this time, even those that force businesses to close or lay off staff. Let’s try to keep it in perspective.

We, as a society and an industry, will get through this, of course. And, I hope, come out the other side stronger, more united, and more appreciative of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while shedding the selfishness of hoarding or profiteering at the expense of our fellow citizens, especially those who are most vulnerable. 

 

Let’s learn something from this crisis: to work together, seek out and offer help, and share ideas and data aimed at solutions, while applying creativity and innovation ... to find a competitive edge. 

 

Another thing I’d really like to see when the dust settles is a groundswell of sharing. I realize that sounds a bit soft and cuddly (or socialist) to some of you, but hear me out: At both our own Under 40 Executive Summit last summer and the two most recent annual John Burns Housing Design Summits, I experienced the power of industry leaders willingly and openly sharing information, best practices, lessons learned, and data to help solve the serious and seemingly chronic issues of skilled labor, housing affordability, and next-level customer experiences. It works like you wouldn’t believe.

If it wasn’t clear before, it was at those events: We can’t, and won’t, solve those problems alone. Yes, solutions are likely more local than national, but even so, without the power of a collective effort—and in this case, everyone is a stakeholder—I’m afraid we’ll still be talking about these issues in 10 years’ time or longer, which is simply unacceptable. And unsustainable.

 

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So, let’s learn something from this crisis: to work together, seek out and offer help, and share ideas and data aimed at solutions, while applying creativity and innovation—not hoarding secrets, which aren’t as unique as you believe anyway—to find a competitive edge. That’s how we’ll get through it.

And, if you’re skeptical (and secretive), I guess I get it, but I also gotta ask: How’s that workin’ for ya?

 

Access a PDF of this article in Pro Builder's April 2020 digital edition

 

Editor-in-Chief

Rich Binsacca is Professional Builder’s editor-in-chief. He has served as an editor and frequent contributor to several housing and building construction-related print and online publications, and has reported and written about all aspects of the industry since 1987.

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