Class Reunion – Staying Connected in Turbulent Times

by Richard Delaney, President and Principal, Collaborative Decision Making

Silly me. When the reality of the pandemic settled in, I started to worry I’d be crawling the walls with boredom. I am actually busier than ever – just in different and, frankly, very important ways. So many people to reconnect with, so many administrative loose ends to clear up, so many apps to really learn how to use, and the list goes on. One of the things I am really enjoying is sparking interpersonal connections.

As satisfying as it is to reconnect with folks one-on-one, it can be time consuming. So, when I received a few email requests for suggestions about how people can reset their engagement efforts towards virtual techniques, I decided to organize a class reunion. I reached out to my last two iap2 Foundations classes in Toronto, and people confirmed they were interested in a class reunion of sorts. The focus was to explore how people are coping, or thriving, in our brave new world. The agenda was a simple roundtable to share the strategies, tactics and tools people have been using that work, both professionally and personally. Rather than make you go through the whole list, here is a synthesis of our discussion. I have taken the liberty of joining some of the dots between comments and expressing the emotions behind the words:

  • I care for myself:
    • Acknowledge my fears and insecurities and make peace with them
    • Create spaces for me to do what I need to do: to work, to relax, to exercise, whatever
    • Have a routine: the time I get up, what I do to prepare for the day, when I do the things I would normally do… I just do them differently, e.g. connect virtually with friends for an iso-lunch during the day, or a quaran-tini near the end of the day
    • Know what is going on in the world, but be careful to not drown, it can be terrifying
    • Have confidence in the guidance of health authorities, follow their advice and give thanks for our healthcare professionals
    • Know this crisis will not go on forever (this too shall pass) and think about the story I want to tell about what it meant to me and how I dealt with it
    • Be part of how this crisis made our community, country and world stronger and better


  • I care for my family:
    • Create structure to the day for my kids and life partner, structure brings predictability and predictability brings comfort in our upside-down world
    • Make time and facilitate connections with family and friends
    • Morning meetings with family to plan the day
    • Try new ways to stay connected with friends and neighbours:
      • Talking through windows
      • Conference calling friends and family
      • Using video chat
        • over dinnertime
        • playing Trivia
        • group yoga or stretching
      • Daily Lego challenge that starts at the same time each day and ends by circulating photos


  • I engage with my colleagues:
    • Daily routines through phone lines, video chat, team huddles
    • Social time to exchange photos and stay connected at a personal level
    • Explicitly review / renew working relationships and governance structures within our new virtual reality
    • Appoint a person to explore and help maintain new virtual approaches to collaboration
    • MS Teams and ZOOM have proven to be quite functional and easy to use for bigger team meetings, presentations and learning
    • Telephone townhall has proven effective to replace larger gatherings and in some cases more effective
    • Reaching out individually by phone with key contacts or clients to just “check in”
    • Postponing new engagements and extending / retooling existing ones
    • Thinking about when it will be appropriate to start new engagements
    • Planning for longer education, outreach and recruitment periods for new engagements
    • Using banners, posters and road signs to raise awareness for upcoming engagement opportunities

I took notes in real time on Power Point slides that were being displayed on our GoToMeeting platform. We used the video function during the call; it was wonderful to see familiar and friendly faces. Comments and my follow-up presentation are available here.

To wrap up the session, I presented a few tips on facilitating virtual meetings. Whether they are phone or web meetings, these guidelines are simple things you can do to help people participate in a virtual setting and achieve the objectives.

I hope you find these useful. Stay safe!