Management Article

Kathleen Wybourn’s picture

By: Kathleen Wybourn

Business continuity is a relatively simple idea. Plan ahead so you can keep your business successful during times of difficulty. Key management transitions, loss of a major customer, the impact of a lawsuit, perhaps a fire or an earthquake. But what if that “difficulty” is a global public health pandemic? An infectious disease that stops the world economic system in its tracks? That triggers something akin to Marshall law, isolates workers in their homes, and forces the shutdown of most businesses, including yours?

How do you keep your business viable if there is no business?

Welcome to Covid-19.

On one handit’s a shocking game changer. A completely unexpected attack on public health and on all forms of economic activity. In this regard, Covid-19 is unlike anything we’ve ever faced. At one point in time all but four states had shut down everything but essential business. Social distancing is the new normal. By mid-April, more than 30 million Americans had filed for unemployment. This respiratory disease that has spread all around the world is a challenge so epic no business continuity plan could have effectively anticipated it.

Multiple Authors
By: Donald J. Wheeler, Al Pfadt

Each day we receive data that seek to quantify the Covid-19 pandemic. These daily values tell us how things have changed from yesterday, and give us the current totals, but they are difficult to understand simply because they are only a small piece of the puzzle. And like pieces of a puzzle, data only begin to make sense when they are placed in context. And the best way to place data in context is with an appropriate graph.

When using epidemiological models to evaluate different scenarios it is common to see graphs that portray the number of new cases, or the demand for services, each day.1 Typically, these graphs look something like the curves in figure 1.


Figure 1: Epidemiological models produce curves of new cases under different scenarios in order to compare peak demands over time. (Click image for larger view.)

Stanislav Shekshnia’s picture

By: Stanislav Shekshnia

Corporate boards across Europe are reacting to the coronavirus pandemic in three ways. For some, it’s business as usual. “Crisis is the business of the CEO; the board does not need to adjust its workings,” the chair of one such board told me. Other boards are going in the opposite direction, becoming very engaged, involving themselves in operations and even making key executive decisions. In the words of the leader of such a board: “When the crisis of this scale strikes—we all become executives.”

I am glad that the most widespread reaction is of a third and healthier variety: Boards adapt their routines to reflect the new reality of extreme uncertainty, increase the frequency of meetings, and change their agendas—but stay away from executive functions. The chair of one such board said: “The essence of our work has not changed—we look after the company’s sustainability, we protect shareholders’ value, we provide oversight to management. At the same time, the intensity and formats of our interactions have been adjusted dramatically.”

What exactly do effective boards need to do to navigate the current crisis? My recent interviews with chairs and directors turned up seven questions that could serve as a guide.

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

The phrase “flatten the curve” means to slow the transmission of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to spread the total number of cases out over a longer period of time. This will avoid overwhelming the healthcare system.1 The model is accurate as presented throughout the internet, but it also overlooks terrible dangers and enormous opportunities.

Multiple Authors
By: David Dubois, Joanna Teoh

From AI-enabled chatbots to ads based on individuals’ search or social media activities, digital data offer novel ways to connect with customers. These connections can develop into intimate customer relationships that boost satisfaction, engagement, and ultimately, loyalty. Consider Netflix’s recent personalization strategy, which enabled viewers of its series Bandersnatch to choose the main character’s actions throughout the episode, leading to five unique endings.

But there is a point where customer intimacy and invasion of privacy blurs. For instance, as early as 2012, Target predicted a teenage customer’s pregnancy through her historical purchase pattern data and sent her baby-related coupons, to the surprise of her parents.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

When the Mosaic browser, with its consumer-friendly interface, was released to the world in 1993, most had no idea how radically this first foray into the internet era would transform our lives, both personally and professionally. As humans, we are generally poor at detecting and acting on early signals of change. And as business leaders, we don’t fare much better.

Most companies were late to the party on PCs, e-commerce, smartphones, digital payments, the sharing economy, gig work, AI, and now virtual ways of working. And it’s not for lack of trying. Last year, companies spent nearly $1.2 trillion on digital transformation, according to research by International Data Corporation. Yet only 13 percent of leaders believe their organizations are truly ready to compete in the digital age.

Enter the Covid-19 crisis. Although it may not be a welcomed shock to the system, it’s driving the rapid adoption of digital technologies and ways of working needed for companies just to stay relevant and continue to operate. Not only has the stock market experienced a historic drop in value, but companies also have had to dramatically change the way they operate amidst a social lockdown.

Eric Stoop’s picture

By: Eric Stoop

According to the National Safety Council, the rate of preventable workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers has flattened or risen slightly since 2009 after decades of steady improvement in occupational safety.

Companies conducting layered process audits (LPAs) can help get the United States get back on track reducing the workplace fatality rate by conducting daily checks to help identify safety nonconformances and fix them before they cause safety incidents.

With daily checks of high-risk processes, layered process audits lead to more conversations about safety, also demonstrating that leadership prioritizes safe work—both critical to creating a culture of safety.

Achieving this level of reliability, however, doesn’t happen overnight. Organizations must first make a key mindset shift, and take a strategic approach to uncovering and resolving instances where people don’t follow standards.

The quality-safety link

Quality and safety may occupy two different departments in the average manufacturing organization, but the reality is that safety is itself an aspect of quality.

Howard Tiersky’s picture

By: Howard Tiersky

Working from home (WFH) is quickly becoming the new normal. The Covid-19 pandemic kicked the WFH movement into high gear, and many experts believe it will continue long after the crisis has passed. (This article makes a solid case.) But before we can optimize this new way of working, we’re all going to have to get proficient at one of the biggest work-from-home fundamentals: the virtual meeting.

Remote meetings are inherently different from in-person meetings. If you’re not used to running them, you’re going to make tons of mistakes. And those mistakes can have major ramifications in terms of how well people perform once they log off and get back to work.

The good news is that well-run online meetings can be extremely powerful. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, online meetings can be even more effective than in-person meetings when done right. But first you need to be aware of what not to do.

Lee Seok Hwai’s picture

By: Lee Seok Hwai

In the trenches of the battle against Covid-19, critical defensive gear and medical equipment are in short supply. Doctors and nurses fighting the nonstop onslaught of the highly contagious coronavirus desperately need more ventilators, test kits, surgical masks, shields, and gowns.

In Spain, healthcare workers are making their own shields or reusing disposable gowns, but 12,000 of them had caught the disease by the end of March. In worst-hit Italy, more than 60 doctors have died. The American epicenter of New York asked for 30,000 ventilators from federal authorities but got only 400.

Multiple Authors
By: Paula Caligiuri, Helen De Cieri

The coronavirus pandemic has forced tens of millions of employees across the United States to work from home. While this will save lives by limiting the transmission of Covid-19, it also poses significant challenges for employees’ well-being.

How can companies support the health of their employees—many of whom have never before worked from home for a significant amount of time?

As researchers in the area of human resource management, we have studied companies’ ability to adopt and encourage practices to improve employees’ well-being.

Here are four research-backed ways we believe companies can promote employees’ health and well-being during this crisis.

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