Students at the Feliciano School of Business must learn how high-performing teams practice excellent decision-making and problem-solving. There is nothing like a real-world story to help illustrate how things work and make the learning stick. This past year, Professor Kirsten Richert from the Department of Management, shared a moving example of collaborative innovation and decision-making with her Organizational Behavior students, describing her participation in the co-curation of a virtual exhibit on the experiences of people who have Long COVID.
Richert’s teaching draws upon her experience in three core disciplines, business management, ideation methodology, and facilitation. Trained as a corporate on-call innovation coach, Richert helped teams plan new efforts, generate ideas, and execute strategies. Richert assisted a nonprofit organization, Relational Space, co-curate a virtual exhibit sharing the experience of people with Long COVID. Relational Space is a nonprofit located in Brooklyn, NY, that creates contemporary art and immersive installations.
Business students and sometimes even leaders in the workplace can be reluctant to engage in group decision-making due to the serious drawbacks often experienced. However, by providing rigorous structures, such as design thinking to diverge to generate many ideas and then converge to find the most viable, desirable, and feasible solutions, a leader can truly leverage the wisdom of their team.
A real-world example of this kind of intentional, well-designed collaborative decision making was the co-curation of a virtual exhibit on the experiences of Long Haulers—or people who have Long COVID. A worldwide team of 12 artists and scientists paired up to co-curate the exhibit, blending their knowledge, skills, and wisdom to design a virtual museum installation to showcase people's experiences with Long COVID. This disparate group of people, many of whom had never met before and some of whom were Long Haulers coping with the ravages of the disease, quickly became a high-functioning team that effectively designed an amazing online exhibit together in just a short series of weeks. Working together using a blend of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration methods—including Zoom, BaseCamp, and phone calls—this group, led by Relational Space Director Leigh Jerome with facilitation assistance from Professor Richert, created a vision for the virtual visitors' experience, identified themes that the exhibit would explore, came up with overarching metaphors to use for the design, and agreed upon key elements to guide the installation.
Highlighting this example, Professor Richert helped her students see how structured facilitation allows leaders to use the power of group decision-making to be much more effective in real-world problem-solving. Students were also invited to the show when it launched. The show is still going on today for our students and alumni, so they can continue to explore this important topic.
Long COVID - We Are Here! is a virtual exhibit that highlights the plight of people experiencing Long COVID. It is a fearless exploration into the long-haul experience aiming to
- Raise awareness;
- Compel an international, funded research agenda;
- Advocate for a global repository of open access articles, resources, therapeutics & treatment strategies;
- Urge widespread physician training and patient support.
Due to popular demand, this powerful and moving show has been extended indefinitely and can be accessed at: https://www.longcovidwearehere.com.