By Howie S. Ferguson​22 

Who’d have thought six, or even two, months ago the world would be so different?  Dealing with and worrying about the coronavirus pandemic or its impacts has become a nearly 24/7, all-consuming thing.22E

Beyond the effect on our personal lives, almost every line of work has suddenly changed in some way.  News, statistics, rules & restrictions, the economy, our moods – these things and more seem to change by the hour, which just increases stress and anxiety.

And yet … somehow … our small staff and the vast majority of COAA members I’ve interacted with in the past 4-6 weeks seem to be modeling “The Greatest Generation” by soldiering forward, adapting, and beginning to search for opportunities amidst the chaos and uncertainty.

If you’re not quite there yet, check out Rex Miller’s article entitled “Why Business Leaders are Going through the Stages of Grief (and how to get through it).”  What you’ll find is sound advice that may help you not only accept the new reality, but embrace it as a chance to create, discover, and refresh.

COAA is attempting to do that by rapidly transitioning from an in-person events-based educational approach to one that’s more digital, virtual, and continuous.  For example:

  • We hosted a virtual “town hall meeting” on March 31 that allowed Owners and other stakeholders the chance to discuss solutions and responses to the pandemic’s impacts. By the time this column is published, we’ll have hosted a second town hall meeting.
  • The old email-based “eForum” is now hosted on Microsoft Teams, allowing members who opt in to chat, ask questions, share ideas, and otherwise just connect to help offset stress and isolation. If you haven’t yet opted in, join us!
  • Cancelling the spring conference in Orlando was devastating, but we pivoted in less than a week to the idea of a virtual conference. Given the newness and uncertainty, not to mention the potential challenges with technology, it’s risky … but well worth it in our opinion since it allows the learning, connecting, and even fun of a COAA conference to take place, albeit in a different way.  We will debut a new “app” for this event to help make it even more interactive – plus the rates are reasonable and the pace will be brisk – so register soon if you haven’t already!
  • We normally present 4-5 webinars each year but hope to offer more in 2020 to allow Owners even more chances to remotely learn and interact.

In terms of your role as a facility/project Owner, here’s something else to consider in keeping with the idea of “making lemonade from lemons.”

Maybe it was fate or just good fortune that the phrase “The COAA Way” was coined and branded within the past two years, but what’s behind it has always been there … and is now more relevant than ever.  Facilitating a healthy team-oriented culture, seeking “win-win” solutions, treasuring the importance of people and relationships, remaining fair and transparent, and focusing less on what’s been lost and more on what might be gained.  These are the sorts of “good Owner” actions called for these days, even though – or especially because – current circumstances make it more difficult than usual.

Please lean on each other and us … and stay both physically and mentally well.

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Howie has served as Executive Director for COAA since August 2018.