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Greg Kunz, strategy business office chief at the Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare

What lesson will you take with you from the pandemic?

It strengthened many of my previous convictions. One is don’t put off anything that you can do right now. Do the thing and understand what the next actionable task is. It’s one of my bylines: what’s the next actionable task? Because time was compressed and the level of understanding of a problem and ability to construct a solution was so difficult, I think it just added more fuel to this fire.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during the pandemic?

The pandemic challenged us in the areas of brainstorming, collaboration and creativity. And the reason why is that many of the tasks that were related to ‘take this thing and do this thing’ or ‘move this thing from this place to this place’ were things that could be done remotely. But the creative problem solving, the solutions that require collaboration or coordination, were significantly more difficult because the bandwidth of interaction between people was just not great. And if you had new people it was harder, and obviously if you had relationships that existed with vendors or others it was less difficult. Time was a constant pressure point because things took longer and the challenge was that timing was really compressed.

What’s an underappreciated IT practice or technology that helped you during the pandemic?

This is going to sound weird, but connecting to people. Talking and connecting to people is the single most important thing that I think we could do. The phone, for example. We do video conferencing and it’s kind of crappy, and I don’t think it’s come into its own yet. If I’m solving a big problem, how do you connect and talk to someone about what the problem is? Technology loves to put a technical solution in a place, but it’s less confident about understanding the full problem that needs to be solved, which requires a business construct around the problem. Don’t just go throw technology at it.