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The Necessity of Reinventing the Wheel: Embracing Lived Experience in Crisis Management

Discover a game-changing perspective on crisis management! My latest article delves into the urgency of reinventing the wheel by embracing lived experience. Learn why it's time to disrupt the status quo and unlock innovative solutions. Read more and join the conversation!

Black man in a red suit seated while leaning over a tire

In a recent discussion with the staff of a political official regarding the ongoing fentanyl crisis and their efforts to address it, a particular phrase resonated deeply with me – "we didn't want to reinvent the wheel." This phrase has lingered in my thoughts, urging me to put pen to paper and delve into the notion of reinventing the wheel, especially in the realm of crisis management.

Wheels are designed to be reinvented when the status quo isn't delivering the desired results or offering a satisfactory return on investment. Stubbornly adhering to old ways, out of reluctance to reinvent, can be seen as a copout, and at times, a form of inertia. This is especially relevant in the context of government officials who frequently grant contracts to the same entities due to convenience rather than assessing the outcomes they generate.

People in roughly the 1900's working an automobile factory

Think of the wheel of an automobile. If it were never reinvented and continually improved, we'd still be stuck with archaic models incapable of meeting modern demands. In much the same way, society should approach crisis management, particularly the fentanyl crisis, by being open to reinventing the wheel.

We need to explore fresh solutions and resist relying solely on traditional sources, simply because that's how it's been done in the past. To expect better results, we must be prepared to reinvent the wheel.

I often emphasize the importance of integrating lived experience experts into organizations, especially during crisis situations related to drug abuse, addiction, gang violence, human sex trafficking, and more. Lived experience experts bring a perspective that cannot be replicated, having firsthand knowledge of the issues they address.

This doesn't diminish the value of other dedicated professionals in this fight, as their expertise is indispensable. The point is that we need all voices at the table. However, lived experience experts are the voices that must be heard. Traditional methods of reaching certain vulnerable populations have proven ineffective.

Broadcasting fentanyl awareness on billboards, bus stops, and pop-up tents at community events does not resonate with or reach those who have experienced the crisis themselves. It's frustrating to see resources allocated merely to maintain revenue streams and keep them within familiar circles rather than directing them where they could be most impactful – by engaging lived experience experts.

White male working on a tire in an automobile factory

Our collective goal should be to empower those at risk of these grave issues. The path to success necessitates a willingness to reinvent the wheel and adapt to new, more inclusive, and empathetic approaches. Together, we can revolutionize the way we address crises, and that begins with being open to reinvention.

Turning Wheels of Change

In our unyielding commitment to addressing crises like the fentanyl epidemic, we must cast aside the fear of reinventing the wheel. While traditional approaches may provide some solace in their familiarity, we cannot afford to remain complacent when lives are at stake.

We hold the power to create new, innovative solutions by welcoming lived experience experts into the fold. Their voices, informed by personal journeys through the darkest of circumstances, carry an authenticity that transcends typical awareness campaigns.

Abstract image of a Mercedes Benz tire

To bridge the gap, we can actively seek to understand the communities impacted by these crises. By doing so, we ensure that messages of prevention and support are delivered through channels that resonate deeply. This entails a departure from conventional methods, such as billboards and bus stops, to reach those who remain untouched by these measures.

Our journey toward effective crisis management is characterized by adaptation, empathy, and a willingness to embrace change. In the end, it's not about reinventing the wheel for the sake of novelty but rather about turning the wheels of change to protect our most vulnerable.

By courageously reinventing our approach, harnessing the insights of lived experience experts, and connecting with the communities that need us most, we are poised to meet the fentanyl crisis head-on. It is a challenging path, but one that leads to brighter, healthier tomorrows for us all.


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