Stewarding Knowledge in Crisis

After 33 years, Global Mapping International is closing.

Winston Churchill has been credited with saying “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Actually, it’s more likely that this idea came from a doctor: M.F. Weiner in a 1976 article, “Don’t Waste a Crisis – Your Patient’s or Your Own,” in the Journal of Medical Economics.

Regardless of who said it, the bigger question is this: “What is our responsibility as stewards of knowledge in the midst of a crisis?” I’m going to apply this to my own situation as CEO of Global Mapping International (GMI), but you can just as easily apply this question to many other scenarios.

Take, for example, the chance to share your faith with someone who is going through a similar significant life event. Or maybe making life changes when confronted with a serious illness or the loss of a job. In crisis, we have the opportunity to evaluate, learn, and change. In fact, it is in (and shortly after) those liminal moments of disequilibrium when the most insight, revelation, and understanding can come.

As we embrace this idea of stewarding knowledge in a crisis, let’s first define stewardship. I’ve learned much from my good friend Dr. Kent Wilson, who, in his recent book Steward Leadership in the Nonprofit Organization, defines it this way: “A steward is anyone who manages the property and resources belonging to another in order to achieve the owner’s objectives.” I’ve underlined several sections to emphasize important points that have impacted me.

First, anyone can be a steward of resources if the owner extends the opportunity. Second, a steward can never forget that he/she is not the owner. And finally, the steward’s use of resources must be in line …

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