Dear CBI Community,

This past week we have seen unprecedented change in our lives. Each day brings new developments – rising numbers of COVID-19 infections; travel restrictions; schools, offices, stores, and restaurants closing; tens of millions now working from home. It is hard to absorb – and adjust to – the impact of all of these shifts. In our work, one key challenge is to continue facilitating effective dialogue and collaboration as we pivot from in-person to virtual interaction.

We are working with dozens of conveners and stakeholder groups who are trying to determine how to keep collaborating on critical public issues in the midst of this turbulence. They have asked when to shift in-person meetings online, how to run virtual meetings (and what tools to use), and how to ensure that these tools enable the focused and constructive multi-stakeholder conversations that are at the heart of CBI’s practice.

We want to help. We are hosting a wide range of meetings online, using a suite of technologies that we know can enable effective dialogue for groups of 5-50 participants, and consultation with groups of up to 300. And, we are continuing our assessments, strategic conversations, and smaller dialogues via telephone and Zoom, our primary videoconferencing software. Our team has produced a series of blog posts to help address some of the questions that have been coming our way:

We hope these posts will help you choose online tools tailored to your needs, try some best practices for online meetings, and tackle the challenges of public participation as we practice social distancing.

We are all in this together, and we see this crisis as an important opportunity to build our shared capacity to collaborate virtually. Our goal is to adapt, learn, and improve the way we support stakeholders who are continuing to work on important public issues. We would like to hear about your experiences with virtual collaboration in this challenging moment. Please email us with thoughts. We will continue to post practical guidance and insights – ours and yours – as we confront this challenge together.

In the meantime, we hope that you and all those close to you will remain healthy, and that this time of social distancing will also bring out the best in our communities, our country, and our world.

David Fairman
Pat Field
Stacie Smith