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For about four decades, we’ve been hearing the phrase “Think globally, act locally.” I have a slightly different mantra for government leaders as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery within their jurisdictions: “Look locally AND globally.”
After all, the pandemic is worldwide, and every affected area has experienced some degree of health, social and economic consequences. In other words, governments around the globe are facing largely similar challenges.
In this environment, it doesn’t make sense to build your own bespoke solutions. Instead, learn from others. Tap into their ideas and innovations. And while you should always consider what other agency leaders within your local area are doing, I urge you to open the aperture much wider. Look to other states, countries and continents to see what works well, what doesn’t work and what you can adapt to fuel success locally. Although there will always be legal and cultural differences, those should not discourage you from considering what you can learn.
Consider, for example, the countries that have made great strides so far. Although it’s premature to talk about a full economic recovery anywhere, South Korea offers a blueprint for managing a health recovery. Despite some secondary outbreaks of COVID-19, the nation has not required a second lockdown thanks to reliance on contact tracing, consistent use of masks and social distancing. Similarly, Germany and New Zealand have emerged as leaders when it comes to achieving a health recovery – and being able to safely relax social distancing requirements.
How can your government apply lessons from these leaders’ successes?
In the U.S. – where states often collaborate less than one might assume – we’re seeing signs of a growing willingness to come together. In fact, Accenture is currently engaged with 10 states that have joined up to support their recovery efforts specifically in the areas of budgeting and financial management. We’ve also seen the Commonwealth of Massachusetts proactively sharing their approach to case investigation and contact tracing with peers in other states.
The pandemic continues to reveal many important lessons and to catalyze significant change. For me, the value of looking – and collaborating – locally and globally is emerging as one of the most crucial. And the rise in working remotely has made this far easier to execute. Whether you’re leading a government organization in Singapore or Sacramento, you can engage with local and global peers to exchange insights and innovations.
This kind of collaboration is a hallmark of public service for a new era. And it shouldn’t be limited to challenges related to COVID-19. Looking ahead, we can apply the same spirit to virtually any challenge – including the important work of tuning the balance between social services and law enforcement. Some nations have achieved a balance that targets root causes and emphasizes sustainable solutions – offering lessons that can help other governments seeking to support better outcomes.
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