Harnessing the Power of Many to Fight COVID-19

Solutions Journalism Network

This collection is adapted from the SolutionsU Pro Innovation in Action series on COVID-19. The series seeks to highlight some of the most powerful social change strategies being used around the world today in response to the global pandemic. Each collection highlights a social change "trimtab" based on Buckminster Fuller's metaphor to explain the power of a single individual to effect significant change. Fuller realized that the trim tab on a large ship’s rudder—really just a sliver of the whole rudder—induced the leverage that moved the entire rudder and thus turned an enormous ship. He applied this idea to individuals, whose small actions can in turn induce larger changes, and ultimately, significant social change and problem solving. 

The three stories in this collection (see below) are about containing and mitigating the coronavirus outbreak. Each story demonstrates the innovation trimtab "harvesting the power of many." The breadth, depth and velocity of most problems -- including the coronavirus -- cannot be effectively solved with the limited agility and scope of traditional organizational structures and hierarchies. An "all hands on deck" approach is required.  In the case of the containing this deadly virus, that means breaking down command and control structures to ignite and harvest the exponential power of teams, and teams of teams, in order to empower as many people as possible in the diagnosis, design, implementation, and evaluation process.  

Read about how Mt. Sinai hospital in New York City launched an app to quickly collect data in order to alert health care providers in real time about growing clusters of cases. In the words of Laura Huckins of the Icahn School of Medicine, "Everyone is included, and everyone can help." In the second story, learn about how doctors are building global communities of practice through social media to rapidly share ideas and discuss what is and is not working. Finally, learn how a multitude of groups are doing whatever they can, as quickly as they can, to produce and source personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.  

Click here for the original collection curated by Greg VanKirk. 

Click here for more teaching collections on COVID-19.