As part of my family’s “Tent Routine” we co-deliver a daily morning COVID-19 brief. I chair the meeting to guide its conduct. My wife talks about what is going locally. My eldest is in charge of the physical fitness routine. My youngest tracks the family outreach / check-in plan. We come to a consensus on the tasks for the day, the meal plan, and our “forced fun” evening activity. Some friends and family have listened in so they can start to implement a similar brief with their families.
This daily brief provides a venue to share information about the situation globally and locally, what we as a family are doing to protect ourselves and others, plan our day by working through any coordination issues, detail any chores that need doing and errands we need to run, and assign friends and family members with whom to connect. This is also the opportunity to combat any rumours that are circulating on social media or less trustworthy news sources. We use questions like “what are you hearing on the news? What are your friends saying?” to stimulate the conversation. This is equally as important in the era of social media, cyber scams, and fake news.
The morning brief is the most important activity that we conduct as a family because it underpins our planning and execution of COVID-19 preparations and precautions.
Comprehensive information is best delivered in and standardized format so everyone knows what to expect. The content can and does change. The headings and how the information is communicated follows a pattern. Military personnel will recognize the pattern as it is based on the 5 paragraph orders format (Situation, Mission, Execution, Service Support or Administration & Logistics, Command & Signals). In my work as a leadership development professional, I have civilianized this format and many of the terms for use in the business community.
You will find attached two documents:
- A Microsoft Word template for you to use (print out or electronically).
- That same template, in PDF format, filled in with the details that I used for my family’s 18 March, 2020 brief as an illustrative example. Your details will be different to a varying degree based on your local conditions.
Below is a table of the Daily Brief’s format. It is formatted in 2 columns: Title of the Headings and the Rationale. The Rationale column is to help you understand why each Heading is important in the COVID-19 context. Unlike a military brief and to make it more easily digestible for all my family, I ask (or rather I have learned to ask) for questions after each major heading.
As we have been doing this for a week now, not every sub-heading is spoken to in detail. We pick different precautionary measures to highlight in any given day to reduce the length of the meeting and to keep everyone engaged.
There are two human conditions that are highly contagious: panic and sense of humour. Being properly informed, being part of a reliable team, and having a solid yet flexible plan decreases panic. The Tent Routine and the daily brief contribute greatly to this.
This is all heavy stuff and what I have proposed likely has a serious military feel to it. That’s why I end my briefs asking if anyone has any final comments by asking for “Questions, comments, or rude remarks…” My wife and kids are big fans of MASH and asking for rude remarks has a distinctively Captain Hawkeye Pierce ring to it.
Please use and pass it on.
As humanity has done over the course of our history, we will get through this. We will get through this by sticking together. Wishing you and your families “bon courage.”
Above Image: The Gasparotto family at their morning brief.