Stronger Through Adversity | Seek Carefully

Thank you for joining me for this series titled Stronger Through Adversity. The book by the same name is based on conversations I’ve had with more than 140 global leaders as they navigate through COVID-19.

John Gerzema, the CEO of Harris Insights and Analytics, once observed, “Transparency, honesty, kindness, good stewardship, even humor, work in businesses at all times.” I believe those qualities have had heightened importance during this crisis. In my conversations with leaders throughout the pandemic, I heard a recurrent theme. It’s hard to be an effective steward of people and resources when actionable intelligence is a moving target. Specifically, in Stronger Through Adversity, I addressed the types of uncertainties that plague leaders:

Can we become infected with COVID-19 by handling packages? How accurate is the information being reported by state health officials? How long does the virus linger in the air? Will a mask reduce my likelihood of being infected? Leaders faced so many questions during the pandemic, and many of those queries were either only partially answerable or had answers that later changed. Amid the blur of questionable information, leaders needed to take a serenity prayer approach. As you’ll recall, Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer advises that we should seek divine intervention to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. When it comes to the pursuit of information during a crisis, a slight word change applies. Leaders have to accept the information they can’t gather rapidly, find the information they can, and be granted the wisdom to know the difference.

Leaders like Jay Mason, the Vice President of Market Intelligence at America’s third-largest homebuilder, PulteGroup, suggested that during the pandemic, actionable information could be challenging to access, but ingenuity and dedication produced results. Specifically, Jay shared,

“The need for reliable and actionable data in a crisis shoots through the roof. Some decisions don’t require a lot of data, and experts in our field make great decisions based on their own experience, knowledge, wisdom, and good judgment, but my job is to make sure they have as much data as possible for sound decision making. We found value in making some inferences based on prior recessions, real estate corrections, gluts of supply, and price drops. Still, we had to increase the frequency of our data reviews. We went from annual capital investment considerations to weekly ones. We also switched from watching weekly sales indicators to tracking numbers daily. Most significantly, we had to innovate ways to get data on our own. This innovation was required as some third-party data providers couldn’t get us what we needed quickly enough.”

How effectively did you, and are you, making inferences from prior trends? Have you shortened the time horizon on data tracking, such as moving from weekly to daily sales indicators? Are you working with your vendor partners to expedite information delivery to help guide your moment-by-moment adaptation? When it comes to health guidance, who do you trust?

I would love to understand how you are carefully seeking actionable intelligence when so much information is in flux. Please reach out to me and we’ll find time for a conversation.

If you would like to learn more about Stronger Through Adversity and get your special signed 40% off pre-order offer, head to

Until next time, may you be Stronger Through Adversity by carefully seeking actionable intelligence.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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