The Columns

John Christopher ’09: High-Stakes Decisions During a Crisis When the 2015 earthquake struck Nepal, John Christopher had to make some quick decisions on how the Oda Foundation could best serve the people of the region.

— by on June 8th, 2017

John Christopher, a 2009 graduate of Washington and Lee University, created the Oda Foundation in 2013 to provide basic low-cost, high-impact healthcare services and education to the people of Oda, located in the Kalikot district of Nepal (you can read about his start-up efforts here).

Two years after he opened Oda’s health clinic, John faced an urgent scenario in the aftermath of the devastating 2015 earthquake. Even though the community was not damaged, he wondered how he could mobilize his healthcare providers to serve a wider audience.

He turned to Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School who had developed a system for solving complex problems called the AREA Method, an acronym for the names of perspectives that it addresses. They utilized AREA to develop and analyze strategies to maximize the foundation’s impact. She guided John through her AREA process and chronicled his decision journey in her new book out this month called “Problem Solved: A Powerful System for Making Complex Decisions with Confidence and Conviction” (Career Press, 2017).

Einhorn’s approach is to help her clients figure out where to start. As she writes in her book: “How do you know where to look for information and how to evaluate it? How can you feel confident that you are making a careful and thoroughly researched decision in such a volatile, uncertain world?”

John said, “The exercise became an inflection point for Oda, the result of which was more informed decision-making and greater reach. The book’s forward was penned by former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the book extensively covers our work in Oda.”

He noted that 50 percent of the book’s proceeds will go to the foundation — good news indeed in these uncertain times.