Management Article

Maria Watson’s picture

By: Maria Watson

The U.S. government has committed hundreds of billions of dollars to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic. But early reports suggested larger companies were gobbling up much of the aid, while many of the neediest ones—particularly those with only a few dozen employees—weren’t benefiting.

Very small businesses, particularly those operating on small profit margins, are especially vulnerable because they may not have the cash reserves to weather periods of economic uncertainty and typically have fewer ways to access financing. A recent poll by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that one in four U.S. businesses is two months away from permanently shutting down.

Davis Balestracci’s picture

By: Davis Balestracci

What is the Vasa? It was a Swedish warship built in 1628. It was supposed to be the grandest, largest, and most powerful warship of its time. King Gustavus Adolphus himself took a keen personal interest and insisted on an entire extra deck above the waterline to add to the majesty and comfort of the ship, and to make room for the 64 guns he wanted it to carry.

This innovation went beyond the shipbuilder knowledge of the time... and would make it unstable. No one dared tell him. On its maiden voyage, the Vasa sailed less than a mile and sank to the bottom of Stockholm harbor in full view of a horrified public, assembled to see off its navy’s—and Europe’s—most ambitious warship to date.

What reminded me of the Vasa? The time has been ripe for visible motivational speakers to weigh in on Covid-19 and “inspire the troops.” From a speech using the Vasa as a backdrop:

“I want to see healthcare become world-class. I want us to promise things to our patients and their families that we have never before been able to promise them.... I am not satisfied with what we give them today.... And as much respect as I have for the stresses and demoralizing erosion of trust in our industry, I am getting tired of excuses....

Dave Cook’s picture

By: Dave Cook

We are experiencing the biggest remote-work experiment in history—but many are beginning to imagine life after lockdown. Amid unprecedented global job losses, concerns about transport infrastructure, and the continuing need for workplace social distancing, governments are launching back-to-work plans.

Meanwhile, the latest U.S. research reveals that 74 percent of businesses want some workers to permanently work remotely, and business leaders are actively shedding leased office space—hinting that not everyone will go back to the office.

Here are five key trends that will shape the future of how we work.

Hari Abburi’s picture

By: Hari Abburi

If there’s one thing the global business community is learning from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s the outright imperative for companies to be agile “from top to bottom.” This lesson continues to ebb, flow, and unfold daily, wreaking having on bottom lines in every corner of the world.

In fact, agility is rapidly establishing itself as “the great equalizer,” asserting its unbridled authority over which companies—from global conglomerates to mom-and-pops, and everything in between—will survive another day. Although business agility has always been a key driver and benchmark of successful operations, now more than ever it’s clear that a business’s ability to rapidly (and accurately) assess a situation and then pivot quickly and with relative ease in response can be a deal breaker in the most profound sense. For many companies, this lack of agility on not just one but multiple levels of the operation means the literal end of the road.

Carrie Van Daele’s picture

By: Carrie Van Daele

Crossing the street or stepping backward when you encounter another person has already become a habit, as has a routine elbow bump, instead of a handshake.

And that is definitely what is needed during a health crisis. But when the time is right, as a society we must bounce back to social connectivity to prevent productivity and relationships from being forever damaged.

Humans are social beings. Sure, we have varying levels of desire for social interaction; some of us want to spend time alone, while others are more inclined to want to hang out in groups. But in one form or another, we all strive for connection with one another.

The physical distancing and forced isolation was a shock to our social system. Although it is helping the health emergency, in the long run it will hinder companies’ efforts to ramp up productivity.

During the late 1970s, I remember the Big Three automotive companies launched a “Quality of Work Life” workshop to rebuild trust between employees and their superiors after an economic downturn resulting in layoffs. The Big Three knew ramping up productivity would happen only with repaired relationships.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

So many companies are shifting their employees to working from home to address the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Yet they’re not considering the potential quality disasters that can occur as a result of this transition.

An example of this is what one of my coaching clients experienced more than a year before the pandemic hit. Myron is the risk and quality management executive in a medical services company with about 600 employees. He was one of the leaders tasked by his company’s senior management team with shifting the company’s employees to a work-from-home setup, due to rising rents on their office building.

Specifically, Myron led the team that managed risk and quality issues associated with the transition for all 600 employees to telework, due to his previous experience in helping small teams of three to six people in the company transition to working from home in the past. The much larger number of people who had many more diverse roles they had to assist now was proving to be a challenge. So was the short amount of time available to this project, which was only four weeks, and resulted from a failure in negotiation with the landlord of the office building.

Celia Paulsen’s picture

By: Celia Paulsen

Nobody likes business to be slow. If you’re in a fast-paced world like manufacturing, seeing your machines or employees idle can drive a person insane. If you’re used to your production line working to capacity and suddenly business slows down, it can be a frustrating time.

When I was in the U.S. Army, we used our downtime to train and clean. On one occasion, we spent nearly two weeks waiting for a change of orders. By the end of the first week, every weapon, every desk, and every blade of grass was spotless. There was nothing left to clean, so we cleaned it all over again!

Over time, I learned that downtime can actually provide a good opportunity to refocus before driving forward again. It offers time to take inventory, get a little creative, and do some renovation, literally and figuratively. My personal downtime to-do list includes organizing my papers, redesigning my closet, playing with my 3D printer, replacing my stair treads, fixing that one light switch, learning something I’ll soon forget, and though you may laugh, improving my cybersecurity posture.

It’s true; I’m a cybersecurity geek. I’ve been a cybersecurity researcher at NIST since 2011 and am now detailed to NIST MEP as the cybersecurity services specialist.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

Long stretches of empty supermarket shelves and shortages of essential supplies are only the visible impacts to consumers of the global supply-chain disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Unseen are the production stoppages in locations across China and other countries and the shortages of raw materials, subassemblies, and finished goods that make up the backstory of the impact.

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak is unprecedented in its scale and severity for humans and supply chains, not to mention medical professionals and governments scrambling to contain it.

Businesses dependent on global sourcing are facing hard choices in crisis management amid the supply chain disruptions. But in planning to mitigate the risks of similar disruptions in future, they confront other questions that have no easy answers: Should they broaden their supplier choices, or do more local or near-shore sourcing? How much inventory of raw materials, subassemblies, and finished products should they stock to tide over the crisis?

Cheryl Carleton’s picture

By: Cheryl Carleton

The labor market is changing rapidly with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many organizations are laying off almost all of their workers, while others are considering which workers to lay off, which to furlough, and which to keep. Alternatively, some are expanding their labor forces.

When the economy starts to open up again, employers will need to consider rehiring or replacing workers, or hiring workers with a different mix of skills. The cost of replacing an employee is high for employers, and being out of work is harmful for workers, who may be replaced with artificial intelligence or contractors and risk losing their skills.

Julius DeSilva’s picture

By: Julius DeSilva

ISO 9001 certifications have seen a decline during the past two years, per data from ISO. Some say the standard has gotten too complicated with the introduction of organizational context, risk-based thinking, and the removal of mandatory documented procedures. Even a few of QMII’s clients have considered letting their certification lapse because conformity to the new standard was perceived as too complex.

To certify or not

Let’s begin by looking at the purpose of ISO 9001. The standard provides a framework for organizations looking to put in place a system that will enable them to consistently deliver products or services that meet their customers’ requirements and enhance their satisfaction. ISO 9001 certification is external validation that the system meets the requirements of ISO 9001. However, ISO 9001 allows organizations to use the standard and self-declare conformity without incurring the cost of certification. Many argue that there is no value in doing this. This is probably correct if you are implementing a system to meet a contractual or customer requirement. In these cases, certification is a requirement.

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