When COVID-19 hit, we all had to change the way we live and work. The home became the office. The couch became the conference room. And in my case, my teammates became roommates—along with our families, two Siberian Huskies and two Bengal cats.

Navigating the "never normal" of 2020, we embraced the situation. In retrospect, quarantining with my colleagues created a valuable team dynamic that may not have formed otherwise.

How we came to quarantine together

Asia-Pacific (APAC) is the fastest growing region in blockchain and multiparty system spending, with China leading the surge at a 51.7% CAGR from 2019-2024. A key client in the APAC region is HKEx, with whom we’re building a distributed ledger technology (DLT)-based Northbound Stock Connect solution that drives real-time transparency into all trades settling in Shenzhen and Shanghai.

When things picked up in early 2020, we decided to move there as a team. At the time, Hong Kong hadn’t seen a single case of COVID-19 in 49 days. Shortly before we left, HK got hit by a third wave and went under quarantine. On top of moving to a foreign country and working across time zones, we knew we’d be in for few, if any, opportunities to socialize and explore.

We decided to follow Accenture’s advice: To beat disruption, you have to rethink how you do things. So, we booked an Airbnb and formed our own little multiparty ecosystem abroad.

Quarantining is a lot like working beyond your four walls

Our team had strong relationships to start with. But seven people and four pets... eating, sleeping, living and working in the same house? None of us (including Accenture) had done anything like that before.

Multiparty system collaboration is no different. Because the technology allows you to work externally with greater confidence, there's seldom a single domain in play. Organizations often work alongside new partners, even competitors, each with their own priorities. One of our initiatives in Thailand, for instance, brings together elements of public service, healthcare and retail.

To beat disruption, you have to rethink how you do things. So, we booked an Airbnb and formed our own little multiparty ecosystem abroad. 

Our “quaranteam” was just as diverse, hailing from all walks of Accenture and life. Strategy, Operations, Americans, Europeans, Cape Verdeans, even dual citizens. People who loved dogs... and people who feared them (like Supply Chain Lead Brett Hornung). How do you weave together nonaligned and often competing stakeholders?

Identify your "why"

Every ecosystem needs a common purpose. For my team, the acceleration of APAC blockchain projects was a strong reason to move thousands of miles away. Multiparty systems are interesting technologies, but they aren’t truly useful until they meet a business problem. Work with your strategy team to define the business value you’re going after, then show that value to each stakeholder. Think about how a given ecosystem with a given set of uses will benefit everyone involved.

My job as a leader is to shape that overall direction for us, but the team also steers the ship. In the house, everyone bought into the idea that we live and die together. We cooked, we sang, we played games, worked out (mostly yoga) and worked hard. And we did it because we’re a team and we have team goals. Everyone has grown as a result (including Brett, who practically counts my dogs as his own these days!)

Similarly, your ecosystem will avail itself of the shared value creation enabled by multiparty systems. As an example, our Northbound solution will help to increase trade volume, reduce risk and drive efficiencies for asset managers, broker dealers, custodians and market participants alike.

Establish trust

It’s been years since I lived with anyone other than my wife Ang and our furry children: the huskies, Jazzy and Jolie, and the cats, Atlas and Amelia. In our new mini-Accenture, we all had to set boundaries, respect each other’s privacy and doll out chores. What keeps the peace? Trust that everyone will do their part.

Jazzy and Jolie beg for scraps at the table.

Multiparty systems build trust by allowing everyone in the ecosystem to see the same piece of data, at the same time, along with its activity history. You can also precisely control who can see the data you share and how it can be used, with the ability to revoke those permissions. This assures stakeholders that their participation raises the tide for all boats without infringing on proprietary issues or their ability to drive their markets the way they want to.

Set up your ecosystem ahead of time

The closeness we shared in quarantine was seeded long before we arrived. Virtual dinners, happy hours and game nights were a weekly occurrence leading up to our move. Today, we’ve extended the tradition to our larger APAC group. Tell me: When’s the last time you played Taboo with your development team in the Philippines?

Forming an ecosystem early aids resilience in times of disruption, be it a broken supply chain, or, in our case, a burst appendix. When our colleague’s son was rushed to the hospital, we didn’t miss a beat. Each of us took turns visiting while keeping things moving back at home (dubbed “Hong Kong HQ”). Likewise, organizations should establish ecosystems and governance now to prepare for what’s next.

We moved as a team—and emerged as a family

Thanks to rigorous measures, Hong Kong’s daily COVID-19 case rate peaked at 159 out of a population of 7.5 million. Since then, we’ve each moved to our own little corners of HK, though our two-week experience will stay with us forever.

Family dinners were a weekly event. (Left to right: Supply Chain Lead Brett Hornung, Product Development Delivery Lead Asad Khan, his wife Natasha, Blockchain Technical Architect Chip Leinen, Strategy Lead Leslie Wong, my wife Ang and yours truly.)

We're no longer a team. We’re a family. The sense of being together on a journey, the deep and abiding comradery we cultivated in our Accenture microcosm—that’s something we should strive for in everything we do, as colleagues and consultants. How do you get people to be better? By getting them to belong to something with a common goal and common purpose. Blockchain and multiparty systems are one way we’re doing that, bringing clients and partners together to create new ways of working and worlds of opportunity. As for quarantining with coworkers? I can’t recommend it enough.

For more on what we’re doing in the region, see our report on corporate innovation in Asia Pacific.

Disclaimer: This document is intended for general informational purposes only does not take into account the reader’s specific circumstances, and may not reflect the most current developments. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information in this presentation and for any acts or omissions made based on such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel or other licensed professionals. Accenture, its logo, and New Applied Now are trademarks of Accenture.

Jamie Solomon

Managing Director – Blockchain MPS Cross Industry Exchange, ASIAM Lead

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