May 4, 2020 Shawn

How California’s Health Plan Industry Can Ensure It Isn’t Lost In The Wilderness During COVID-19

About Shawn: Shawn Rhodes leveraged his former life as a war correspondent to become an international expert in how the best teams pivot when change enters their plans. He’s a Tampa-based TEDx speaker and his work studying teams in more than two dozen countries – some the most dangerous places on the planet – has been published in news outlets around the world including TIME, CNN, NBC, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and INC. His clients have included Deloitte, ConAgra, Coca-Cola and dozens of similar businesses. Shawn is also a nationally-syndicated columnist with the Business Journals and author of the new book “Pivot Point: Turn On A Dime Without Sacrificing Results.”

In times of crisis, it’s easy to feel lost – especially dealing with the crisis of COVID-19. At the California Association of Health Plans, they know that many of us feel like we’re in the wilderness without a map or way home — dealing with furloughing or laying off workers, business continuity and for some of us, wondering if we’ll even be in business this time next year. The folks at California Association of Health Plans also know that the same skills that keep someone alive in the crisis of being lost in the wilderness are the same skills that can help us survive the crisis we’re currently facing.

For instance, whether we’re in the wilderness or in the crisis of COVID-19, we have to find our bearings, avoid panicking, make a plan and execute it to survive – and eventually, thrive.

While many of us have actually been lost in the wilderness, we’re all experiencing it anew with COVID-19’s impact on the world as we know it.

In my work studying the highest performers on the planet, I had an opportunity to live with people whose job it was to parachute into the wilderness, survive on their wits, and make it home as a team. Here’s what they learned about survival and how you can use it to ensure our businesses survive the current pandemic:

  1. Don’t panic

In an unknown situation, the first few minutes are the most critical. In these early stages of a crisis, leaders emerge and decisions are made that can affect the success or failure of an entire group.

If you’re a leader in an organization and find yourself lost in dealing with COVID-19’s impact, charging ahead without a plan could be a fatal mistake. Take the time to get your bearings and check supplies – find out where all your employees are at personally and professionally. Make sure their phones/internet work if you need them to work from home.

  1. Define roles

In the wilderness, whether it’s a group of one or twenty, everyone has specific tasks that need to be completed in order to be successful. Whether those roles are formal job titles or more ad-hoc, take the time to map out your current  team and understand who is responsible for doing what.

Taking a few seconds to do this now will save hours down the road and ensure the right tasks go to the right people – because our clients still need us (or at least need to know we’ll be there for them when the pandemic resolves).

  1. Clarify your objective

Whether you’re trying to get a group over the mountain or through COVID-19, folks need to know where they’re going to be successful.

Once your group is assembled, take the time to define the objective you’re all trying to reach together to get your organization through this. Getting everyone on the same page will keep the group together as you begin your journey to success.

  1. Assign tasks

As you, your team, and your organization begin bushwhacking through the obstacles to get remote workers set, inform clients or where you are and map a road to the future, take the time to assign clear roles to your team members. Accountable goals that collectively get folks to the objective will allow you to be a leader and not someone who leads the group astray or makes a bad problem worse.

The benefit of specific, actionable tasks is that your teams will know exactly what they are responsible for producing – whether it’s a hot meal or keeping your company viable.

Surviving the wilderness of crisis can always help you find your way home. Expect more information from Shawn Rhodes on a regular basis from your leaders at California Association of Health Plans in the coming weeks.

More about Shawn and his work with companies in navigating change can be found at