Cowen Cafe: Build Back Better

On Thursday, July 10, 2020, 63 participants gathered for another invitation-only Cowen Cafe call, sponsored by Integreon, IproNightOwl Global, and Onna. The question again was, what has shifted since last week?

The response was best summed up by one of the participants who invoked the concept of “Build Back Better” from the United Nations’ Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. The idea of Build Back Better is to use the recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction phase following a disaster as an opportunity to implement integrated disaster risk reduction measures. In that way, we may be able to reduce existing disaster risk and prevent the creation of future disaster risk.

How did Build Back Better fit? This participant drew on the concept of Build Back Better to frame a discussion of successes achieved and challenges faced by courts in his state as they have attempted to go virtual in reaction to COVID. Much as work well with these efforts. The biggest challenge remaining to be tackled is how to conduct effective virtual jury trials.

Other aspects of the discussion also fit well within the Build Back Better framework, ranging in scope from small to large, individual to institutional.

Some in-house participants talked about progress on the knowledge management and information governance fronts. They have been trying to push past the immediate COVID-related challenges. One participant described focusing on aspects of her initiatives over which she have control and for which she could budget. A second discussed the success she has experience moving from reactive to proactive IG efforts. Another participant related the satisfaction he got when he finally was able to persuade the powers-that-be that it employees working from home should be provisioned with additional monitors instead of being told to use their iPads as a second monitor (the company does not support iPads, so that should have been as easy thing to figure out). A fourth in-house person note that increasingly decisions are being driven by data; he especially sees this in his legal department where their eyes are being opened as to the value of data.

Several participants brought up the “fits and starts” nature of accommodating the changes wrought by COVID. At one company, employees are told to work from home, then go back to the office, then return to working from home again. At another, after many months of interviewing they finally are filling positions but still are trying to figure out how to make remote versus local work for those new hires.

In the end, there was consensus on one area in particular, part of Build Back Better. We are seeing new approaches to addressing problems, new initiatives, new start ups. The human spirit is not meant to sit at home, said the leader of one of the service provider participants. Instead, he remarked, if we look at the history of economics, we see that time and again when society goes through a downturn, emerging from that downturn is an expansion – and explosion – of opportunities.

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