Learning and Pandemic Readiness

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This is an update toFlu Pandemic: Compliance or Readiness” posted in February.

As of November 12, 2007 the World Health Organization has confirmed 335 cases of H5N1 in humans. Nearly two thirds of those infected have died (206 deaths). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is funding pandemic planning activities across the nation, yet for many organizations this is not a priority. It’s not even on the back burner.   

Imagine all organizations (vendors, customers, utilities, etc.) experiencing 35% absenteeism (35% is the projection). In that environment, our current model of “just in time” economics will not succeed.

Organizations need to develop contingency plans by trouble shooting to identify options for a successful strategy. Training professionals need to be at the core of this endeavor. Will your team be ready to deliver a life saving message when the time arrives? For a high level overview for the issue, watch Scott McPherson and Elliott Masie’s discussion, Learning and Pandemic Readiness recorded at The MASIE Center’s Learning 2007 this past October.  

These particular plans may not need to be put into action (Although an epidemiologists friend at the CDC says it’s only a matter of time before a pandemic strikes). It may not be bird flu that hits us, but as Dwight D. Eisenhower said, In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

Walk for Trash

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That’s right, walk for trash. We walk for autism, cancer, diabetes, and a host of other causes yet we are missing an opportunity. What if we picked up trash as we walked? It may sound crazy but think of the benefits. It could be a catalyst for shifting our understanding of individual and communal responsibility.  

There is a sense of nobility in working for a cause. It’s as if the experience recalibrates our minds and we want to do better and be better. We want to make a difference and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Yet there is a gap between the feelings brought on by helping those who, for the most part, experience suffering by no fault of their own and the feelings we have about picking up trash others have left behind.

What causes us to segregate our sense of responsibility and charity? Can we transcend this gap and bring those same kind of noble feelings with us as we pick up trash? Can we take our sacrifice to the next level, do the uncomfortable, and clean up the messes others left behind? I believe we can.

Maybe it’s the Boy Scout in me; I cannot find a valid excuse for littering. Equally foreign is the idea that it is someone else’s responsibility to clean up.  What will happen if just one person takes a pair of gloves and a few trash bags to the next walk and cleans up along the way? What if it’s two people the next time, then ten people, then fifty, then one hundred? What difference will the one have made for the other ninety nine? What if walk organizers picked roads that need work? How would this increase our sense of ownership for the roadways we clean? How could this small individually driven challenge shift our culture of responsibility and conservancy?

The answers to these questions are too valuable to ignore.