Two Points Uncovered: My 1721 Module and Latest Client

I had a private session with a new client, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, Southern District Indiana. A group of very savvy officials with this office and their counterparts from several near-by states joined in the session. The topic was one of my favorites, the 1721 smallpox epidemic in Boston. The module involves the ebb-and-flow of four leaders during a six-month public emergency.

Two points were uncovered that must be mentioned. First, the leader who can communicate and knows how to wield media is very powerful, a force to be reckoned with, be it for good or for ill. This point was made clear by Dr. William Douglass’s experience in 1721. For you today, it underscores the importance of knowing how to communicate as well as being adept in various methods of communication. Second, there are times when you as a leader must assess which is the greater threat standing in front of you. You have to prioritize your actions according to your judgment of the greater threat. We saw this with Dr. Zabdiel Boylston’s reaction to the threats of a formal murder charge by a unit of government versus the likely actions of mobs.

Two points from 290 years ago that are as relevant as the coffee in your cup.