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5 Reasons you Need a Crisis to Drive Transformation

crisis

5 Reasons you Need a Crisis to Drive Transformation

There’s a saying that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. What it actually represents is an opportunity–and the space–for change that normally isn’t available. Here are some of the key hurdles that usually stand in the way of change:

1. Change is uncomfortable

More to the point, the status quo is comfortable. We all take comfort in our routines, whether it’s a particular procedure for closing the books, taking comfort in a familiar organizational structure and close colleagues, or simply repeating the same stretches and workout routine every morning. Breaking out of that comfort zone is both difficult and not always seen as providing worthwhile rewards.

2. Incentives aren’t aligned

Every department and partner is driven by different objectives or KPIs. Revenue teams want to hire ahead of predicted growth, while finance wants to see proof, first. Companies with complementary capabilities to yours want to explore building the adjacent capabilities you deliver, rather than investing in partnerships. Suppliers and buyers are more invested in building long-term relationships and goodwill than in making sure every payment and collection is right on time. Without aligned incentives, finding a way to work together toward new and positive outcomes becomes arduous.

3. Stay in your lane

Teams tend to stay in their own swim lanes to avoid change. The tax department will keep to themselves, as will the invoice processing team. They have little need to talk to each other. If they need to align processes or computer systems, for example, they work methodically through that alignment, raising every possible objection and potential hurdle. The goal is to ensure the solution is correct, of course. But wading through the red tape of heavy opposition also serves to minimize change.

4. Competing incremental initiatives

In prosperous times, there are many attractive opportunities for an organization to invest in growth. From management’s point of view, focus is difficult to maintain and it becomes too easy to spread capital and management attention too broadly. Because there are many “easy wins,” more incremental, yet proven, ideas tend to fill up the investment budget.

5. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

Persuading others to make changes is harder when the economic sea is calm and fortunate winds fill your sails. By definition, a crisis breaks things, and the fixes required can provide the impetus for changes that would be seen as too radical under normal circumstances.

Since you read this far, I’ve got two bonus reasons that you need a crisis to drive change:

6. A lack of momentum and energy

Those of you who remember chemistry class might recall that a chemical reaction requires energy to start, even if it releases energy overall in the course of the reaction (if no energy was needed, the reaction would have happened already).

A very similar logic exists for making major changes in a business. Although the outcome on the other side of the change might be a better situation compared to the status quo, it’s hard to get past the energy required to make a change.

7. The process doesn’t allow for change

Think about procurement processes, for example. For many large organizations, purchasing anything requires a request for quote (RFQ) from at least three pre-qualified vendors and a formal tender process. It’s a very prolonged, and actually quite inefficient, exercise.

What many enterprises often don’t realize is the ease with which adapting to a crisis can turn a seemingly untenable situation into an opportunity to thrive.

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Uri Kogan is VP of Product Marketing at AppZen, the world’s leading AI platform for modern finance teams

transformation

5 Tips To Focus Your Company’s Transformation As COVID Forces Change

While the recession caused by COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses of all sizes and industries, some are finding new ways to run daily operations, reach customers, re-shape their business, and stay relevant.

But others are still trying to figure out how to transform, and an expert in the field says that launching a transformation begins with setting the right scope.

“Over the years, I have seen an ill-defined program scope cause serious problems,” says Edwin Bosso (www.myrtlegroup.com), founder and CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group and the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey.

“For example, the scope may drift from the originally defined target. The scope is the description of the transformation’s area of focus, and in most cases, the scope is defined as a combination of categories. Examples are functional – sales, logistics, production, operations – and organizational – leadership, technology, processes, management systems. It’s most important that the scope is defined to address the challenges at hand and avoid distractions or wasted resources.”

Bosso has five tips for companies to set the right scope for their transformation:

Articulate the problem. Which problem are you trying to solve? Bosso says that question is at the heart of a company transformation. “Defining the specific problem may take numerous discussions and disagreements,” Bosso says. “The human brain has a natural tendency to drift. Blurry lines sometimes separate root causes and symptoms. This step is generally completed with a well-crafted statement of the problem that the organization is setting up to solve.”

List the ways. “When properly conducted,” Bosso says, “this step helps in visualizing the solution. Listing possible solutions is a way of testing the definition of the problem. This step calls for honest questions and thorough analysis to identify the solution options.”

Identify the means. “This is the stage where you test the capabilities of the organization against solution options by identifying necessary means,” Bosso says. “It comes down to understanding internal means, or levers that would need to be pulled to solve the problem. Potential means available might include people, office space, computer systems, or technical expertise in sales, R&D, inventory management and procurement. The process allows organizations to match the correct means to solutions.”

Capture the enablers. Examples of enablers key to the transformation process are those in program management and data science. Enablers cannot operate on their own to make something happen,” Bosso says. “They are, however, necessary or simply useful for that same thing to happen. For example, change management cannot improve the performance of the sales organization without some level of sales expertise. Once enablers are defined, it is important to capture the various ways in which each enabler supports the transformation program.”

Explore synergies and interdependencies. This step focuses on understanding the overlaps, synergy opportunities, and constraints caused by ongoing initiatives. “Start with a list of all current initiatives that the organization is running,” Bosso says. “The finance department is typically a good source for the information. Meetings should be held with each team, and it’s important to understand that each may be protective of its objective, ways, and means. This could set up turf battles and heated discussions, so explicitly setting the objective of the meetings to understand synergies can help alleviate disagreements and fears.”

“Undergoing a major transformation is really the best hope for struggling businesses to survive in these difficult times,” Bosso says. “There is no time to waste. There are no resources to waste. To get your transformation on target, setting the right scope is critical from the outset.”

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Edwin Bosso, the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey, is the founder/CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group (www.myrtlegroup.com). Bosso specializes in operations improvement and change management, and his project history includes work for major brands such as Heineken, Texas Petrochemicals, T-Mobile, Anheuser-Busch, Rohm and Haas, Campbells Soup Company, Kellogg’s and Morton Salt. A wide range of assignments have taken him throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. He completed his undergraduate education at The Hague Polytechnic in the Netherlands and earned an MBA from Rice University in Houston.

team

Team Leadership Behavior in a Post Coronavirus World

Human behavior throughout history tells us that when groups of people are suppressed or living in fear, they avoid making decisions dampening progress, and ingenuity. One only must look at our darkest time in history, such as the Black Plague, where one-quarter of the population of London died between 1665 and 1666. Isaac Newton may have thrived isolated away from Trinity College during his “Year of Wonder”, but group societal progress and development did not.

The human reasoning for this, which applied in the 1600s and now COVID-19 times, is instability and fear of the unknown. During these challenging times as leaders, it may seem more natural to “hunker down” and avoid making tough decisions. During a crisis in an effort not to upset others or lose status in the eyes of their followers, leaders tend to concoct sophisticated justifications for putting off difficult decisions, and the delay often does far more damage than whatever fallout they were trying to avoid.

Business leaders must understand that in fact, hard decisions often get more complicated when they are deferred especially during a crisis. The need for rapid decision making is critical, understanding that most decisions can be reversed, but nothing can be worse than an idea or a decision never put forward during a crisis.

The most significant consequences occur when a leader misses an opportunity to help his team build resilience in the face of a tough challenge. Instead of learning to rally together to find creative solutions, they feel demoralized, confused, and even scared by their leader’s deceit.

The consequence of this common rationalization is people learn the wrong lesson to avoid mistakes at all costs and that “looking right” during a crisis is more important than “doing right.” Further, if leaders end up backing themselves into a corner with fewer options sub-optimal decisions may be made. Too often in crisis leaders will continue to ask for more data or analysis (Analysis Paralysis) instead of taking the risk and making the best decision possible with limited data which can save an entire organization during these challenging times. Postponing decisions to wait for more information might make sense during business as usual. But when the environment is uncertain—and defined by urgency and imperfect information—waiting to decide is a decision in itself. As Bruce T Blythe, CEO of Crisis Management International wrote: Crisis decision making is located somewhere between analysis and intuition.

Amid uncertainty generated by a crisis, leaders often feel an urge to limit authority to those at the top, with a small team making the big decisions while huddled behind closed doors. They should reject the hierarchical model that they might be more comfortable within normal times and instead involve more people, encourage different views and debate fostering creativity and risk-taking. This approach can lead to smarter decisions without sacrificing speed. Some small choices that leaders make in the short run could loom exceptionally large over the long term as the crisis unfolds. They can be hard to spot, but leaders must look for them.

In the normal course of business, many “big-bet” decisions are obvious when there is a large cost or major impact, such as acquiring a company, marketing a product in a new geography, or shutting down a factory, with these decisions. But some decisions that seem small or routine at first can have large long-term strategic implications. In an example related to coronavirus, Netflix has gone to lower-resolution streaming in some locations to ease the data load on information networks. While most people won’t notice the difference in quality, the decision could mean that the internet doesn’t crash, which would be a big problem when so many are working from home and children are relying on the internet to do their schoolwork.

When choosing leaders to rise above the rest of the pack during these challenging times, identify colleagues  who have done as many of the three following things as possible to increase the likelihood of them being successful in the current times of uncertainty:

-Lived through a crisis (personal or professional) and shown their mental and personal resilience. For Multinational organizations, many of these leaders may be outside the US leading their markets in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and The Middle East.

-Made tough, unpopular decisions because it was the right thing to do, even though they took heat for it and potentially burned bridges or spent social capital.

-Expert in: Straight Talk – Willingly able to give bad news up the chain of command to leaders who didn’t want to hear it.

Unprecedented crises demand unprecedented actions. Lessons from past crises suggest that leaders are more likely to underreact. What is necessary is to take bold and rapid actions that would feel too risky in normal times. I.e.: Being rewarded for Daring to Try.

As an executive during a crisis how difficult decisions are made in your truly define an organization’s decision-making culture over time. Whatever temporary pain you might incur from making a tough call should pale in comparison to the precedent set that it’s important to take chances, make quick decisions, and put the organization’s success first.

At the operational or emergency response level it is true that life and death decisions will be taken, the decision is binary and those who made the decision will know very quickly whether the decision is successful or not. Sometimes it is those who go against training and procedures that survive and the ones who do what they are told and stick to procedures suffer. But the trickiest are those we call “big bets”—unfamiliar, high-stakes decisions. When you have a crisis of uncertainty such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which arrived at overwhelming speed and enormous scale, organizations face a potentially paralyzing volume of these big-bet decisions.

Make smart decisions quickly to guide their organizations through this crisis. Embrace them and continue to learn as you go. As one business leader, I spoke with recently told me when I asked how he was doing with his business: “Our company reinvented itself three times this week alone. We will continue this path until we find what works. With the Chaos comes opportunity!”

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By Frank Orlowski, Founder and President Ation Advisory Group| frank@ationadvisory.com | New York, NY USA

If you have any questions or would like help in the area of Compliance and Controls please do not hesitate to contact Frank at frank@ationadvisory.com or visit my website at www.ationadvisory.com. Ation Advisory Group has expert financial and operational experience in development, manufacturing, distribution, and sales spanning 55 countries and, six continents, delivering individualized, proven methods to build out and implement highly successful and sustainable country-specific goals.  All executed with 100% FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) compliance.

world

Team Leadership in the COVID-19 World

In 1933, when FDR delivered his first inaugural address, U.S. unemployment stood at 25%, and 7,000 banks had folded in three years. Even as he cautioned his fellow Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he also conceded that “only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.” The realities of that moment still appear at this instant to be grimmer than those of the current one. Yet with a staggering 26 Million American filing for unemployment over the last five weeks, it’s challenging to dismiss projections of jobless rates reaching or even eclipsing the Depression-era peak that confronted FDR on that very first day of his presidency.

Today’s Americans may not emerge from the coronavirus siege embracing anything approaching the extreme of those directly impacted by the Great Depression, and no reduction in federal responsibilities in the current situation is likely to take the country back to pre-New Deal mode. However, it would be unwise to assume that the severe jolt to our sense of physical as well as material well-being inflicted by this crisis will leave no mark on our human behaviors going forward.

Obvious ones that may never return include handshaking (a tradition long gone in Japan), full-service toll booths, buffets, and sadly free samples at Costco. However, as we dig deeper into the business world, there are less obvious ones that can transition into new ways of doing business. This article seeks to highlight letting go of the past and what to look for in the new COVID-19 World.

We have often heard two widely accepted quotes that seem to contradict each other. The first describes a stonecutter who strikes the rock 100 times with no result. However, on the 101st blow, he sees the rock split. In short, it was not the 101st blow alone that split the stone, but the 100 that went before reinforcing the message of persistence and “staying the course.”

However, the second quote is that the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing again and again and expecting different results. The message here is if what you are doing is not working, change what you are doing.

In this COVID-19 World, the question the entrepreneur faces is when to persist and when to change course. The answer depends on the circumstances. To be successful in business in today’s world or any other endeavor, you must be willing to persist when times are tough.

Like the stonecutter, you must be willing to continue working hard through patches where there are no visible results. At the same time, success also requires that you be ready to change course when the current path is not getting you where you want to go, especially during a pandemic. Pivoting now and reinventing yourself may help you thrive later.

Depending on the type of business, we see shifts and pivots in commercialization strategies to help organizations recapture, maintain, and ultimately grow revenue. Obvious ones include storefronts to Direct to Consumer or “you come to us” vs. “we come to you,” adding guaranteed supply of hard to get essentials into unique offerings. Less visible but impactful pivots for CFOs include choosing profitability overgrowth. Government Subsidies, forgivable loans, and grants are the preferred option during these times vs. dilutive funding, and traditional bank business loans or lines of credit.

Looking inside and redefining, your organization should include using this crisis to define a new mission. Instead of ducking from the crisis, refine your company, and embrace it. Externally getting to know your clients better and looking at your client’s challenges from an outside perspective is essential. From a business development standpoint, look ahead at tomorrow’s needs. Ask the question: “What’s my unique selling proposition, and what should it be?” This will allow your organization to pivot and redefine itself appropriately.

Most importantly, believe in your business! See the light at the end of the tunnel. The changes you make to your business model will eventually add to the bottom line and improve profitability. When you believe your business can make it now, you will be a stronger, more resilient, less vulnerable company for the future.

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By Frank Orlowski, Founder and President Ation Advisory Group| frank@ationadvisory.com | New York, NY USA

change

5 Reasons Company Leaders Resist Needed Change – Even During This Crisis

The thought of change can be scary, even more so during the type of crisis we’re experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there are business leaders who are already implementing change in response to the challenging economic and operational landscape, many others are not.

“Sometimes the writing is on the wall and organizations are triggered to change,” says Edwin Bosso, Founder and CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group and the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey. “In fact, members of the organization often are keenly aware that something needs to be done. However, despite that, management does not act, and the cost of inertia can be high.”

According to Bosso, there are five reasons why leaders resist change and, as a consequence, struggle to move their company forward:

They confuse important versus urgent. Leaders sometimes confuse the terms important and urgent. “Important issues are those that do not necessarily have an explicit deadline, like urgent issues, but can effectively have some impact, large or small, on a business,” Bosso says. “The confusion sets in when owners and managers spend too much time putting out fires rather than planning. For example, the company may know that it is important to upgrade its operations. But it doesn’t become urgent until later on when the company looks at the output of its competitors that have completed transformation projects and have become a lot more cost-competitive.”

They lack courage/leadership abilities. Successfully initiating and executing a change process involves numerous leadership skills. “It can be intimidating taking on such a challenge that, to some leaders, may seem like moving a mountain,” Bosso says. “Others are better prepared to take risks, confront reality, envision a better way, make plans, and then act on those plans to lead a change.”

They misalign the incentives. The incentive to change or transform organizations can be misaligned with the incentives of people who are in charge of leading those transformations. “Misalignment of personal incentives can cause us not to act, even when we know it’s the best thing for the company,” Bosso says. “When we are in line for a promotion and higher pay, we certainly don’t want to take on risks that can potentially work against us.”

They lack support and/or resources. Not being afforded the requisite tools or the consensus for necessary transformation can leave a leader feeling powerless. “This is a set of obstacles that many leaders run into,” Bosso says. “The powerlessness can come from the lack of company means, organizational backing, human capital and resources to support the cost of a transformation. After a while, they run out of energy, or time, to make the case.”

They lack a method. It’s not uncommon for leaders to know the difference between where their company is and where it could be, but they don’t know how to proceed. “In such situations, leaders often freeze up and put off the impending need to change, or they approach it through trial and error,” Bosso says. “Having a methodology is beneficial when taking on such an effort. Some leaders take the time and effort to learn what needs to be done, while others bring in experienced people to provide a method for leading a smooth and successful transformation.”

According to Bosso, leaders must understand that there will never be a perfect time for change, but also that often the right change only happens if they force the issue.

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Edwin Bosso, the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey, is the founder/CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group (www.myrtlegroup.com). Bosso specializes in operations improvement and change management, and his project history includes work for major brands such as Heineken, Texas Petrochemicals, T-Mobile, Anheuser-Busch, Rohm and Haas, Campbells Soup Company, Kellogg’s and Morton Salt. A wide range of assignments has taken him throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. He completed his undergraduate education at The Hague Polytechnic in the Netherlands and earned an MBA from Rice University in Houston.

manufacturing

Predictions, Prophets, and Restarting Your Manufacturing Business Amid COVID-19

COVID-19 has created a drastic effect on global health and the economy. Every nation is struggling to deal with the challenge of keeping its residents protected against coronavirus. Businesses are witnessing huge financial losses owing to a reduced/lack of workforce and other resources. If we talk about the manufacturing industry, it also has been hit hard by the corona crisis, and the fact that it has a huge role to play amidst coronavirus lockdown, this impact is felt the most by everyone.

The global supply chain got disrupted because of coronavirus, and since it originated in China, which is considered as the biggest manufacturing market globally, the ability of the manufacturing industry to meet the needs of the customers came down significantly.

So, let us throw some light on the impact of coronavirus on the manufacturing industry, and figure out some effective ways that can help manufacturers restart their business proficiently.

The Prophets and Prediction

The Prophet: The problem with prophecies is that they are based on data that is just a few weeks old, which is not sufficient for business leaders to make hard, cold business decisions when it comes to coming back in the market.

The Prediction: With social distancing becoming a norm, most of the people look forward to buying online. This clearly means that the scope of eCommerce is on the rise, and manufacturers will be looking to make a shift gradually.

Restarting Your Manufacturing Business

Every business is looking to return to the market, but due to the measures that are being adopted to reduce or prevent coronavirus are affecting the supply chains directly, which, in turn, is leading to disruptions in the manufacturing operations worldwide.

If we talk about the manufacturing industries like automobiles where production is done on a massive scale, the schedules for production are rigid and efficiency-optimized. In a similar way, the working of supply chains is dependent on schedules that are fixed like months ago based on the demand projections. Still, automobile owners are looking forward to remodeling such systems to be able to meet the irregular demand atmosphere.

Every crisis consists of several challenges, but one should look for opportunities within them. So, keeping the new norms of personal protection and social distancing, businesses need to redesign their business models.

To help businesses get started again, we are providing some guidelines that will help them to:

-Evaluate the organization’s COVID-19 safety compliance and requirements.

-Restructure the workplace for personal safety and protection.

-Implement procedures for personal protection.

-Put into practice the action plan for restarting to ensure a secure future of the company.

As per a Deutsche Bank analysis, the growth of GDP on the global level will be lower in 2020 due to the coronavirus effects. This effect will leave its impact on most of the U.S. and Europe, with growth forecasts on the global front also likely to drop by 0.2 percent.

Taking Care of the Workforce

The manufacturing industry is dependent on its workforce, and most of them proceeded towards their hometown owing to the fear of contracting coronavirus. In order to get its workforce back, a manufacturing company must keep track of the health status of every worker, along with gaining knowledge on the happenings in their areas through digital mediums. This will help them in knowing from which parts of the country they can call back their workforce to restart the manufacturing processes.

However, at this point in time, most of the manufacturers have to wait, and even if they are able to start the operations with a minimal workforce, they will be unable to manage their other important processes like accounting. In such cases, opting for Outsourcing manufacturing accounting services becomes imperative.

Securing Supply and Inventory

Instant delivery and globalization have turned out to be huge risk areas. Suppliers, including sub-suppliers, are all going through a similar situation. During such crisis situations, a huge concern comes to the top since procurement teams are unable to have close contact with their manufacturing suppliers. This, in turn, restricts them from monitoring the capacity of the production on a weekly/daily basis or evaluating the latest logistics prices and routes.

Now, with COVID-19, supply and inventory are in a position where there is a high risk of contractual defaults and severe legal action concerning the inability to fulfill orders on time or otherwise.

Why do Manufacturers Need to Rethink their Restart Strategies?

Most of the manufacturers are ready with their restart strategies and looking forward to implementing them ASAP. These new strategies are primarily focused on:

-The use of digitalization to receive data and have a superior visualization of the supply chain with control-centric solutions.

-Automation and robots to enhance the flexibility of the plant, including the capacity to run significant processes remotely or alone.

There is no denying that manufacturers are moving in the right direction, but they need to figure out for how long and at what pace they can carry out their production with a minimal workforce, technology support, and funds. The reason being local and international supply chains are disrupted, and one cannot say till how long this situation remains the same.

If a manufacturer is heavily dependent on the demand of a specific region or country, he may have to slow down his operations due to a lack of demand because of COVID-19. Low demand means a low supply and returns, leaving little funds for the manufacturer to operate. So, manufacturers need to assess their new strategies from every angle so that they are ready to face the forthcoming unexpected challenges.

This is a challenging situation for manufacturers for sure, and they cannot halt their operations for long. The above-mentioned suggestions will surely help manufacturers to not just get started but ensure smooth business operations in the future. Yes, they need to devise strategies, keeping in mind not just the present scenario but the possibility of forthcoming events, to stand strong against any unfavorable circumstances that might arise in the future.

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Gia Glad works as a Business Development Manager at Cogneesol, a well-renowned company offering data management, technology, accounting, and legal services. While handling the projects, she has witnessed a lot of changes over the years. She has been thoroughly researching and sharing her viewpoints about these industry trends and changes on many platforms across the Internet.

Aristotle

How Aristotle Can Help You Lead Your Business Through Tough Times

Business leaders face plenty of questions as they try to get a handle on the new economic reality brought about by the COVID-19 shutdown and the resulting recession.

But the answers to those questions may not appear in their corporate handbooks. Instead, they could lie in ancient philosophies with lessons that apply just as much today as they did centuries ago, says Cristina DiGiacomo (www.cristinadigiacomo.com), author of Wise Up! At Work and founder of MorAlchemy, a philosophical consulting firm that helps CEOs and executives tackle their biggest challenges by teaching them how to think differently so they see new solutions and their companies thrive.

“We could all use a little wisdom these days because COVID-19 has caused a shift in the way people think, the way people work, the way they live and how they think of themselves,” DiGiacomo says. “Technology may change, culture may change, but acting wisely is no different in the 21st century than the 5th century.”

Too often, when people hear words like philosophy and wisdom, they conjure images of a bearded man on a mountain, with enlightenment seekers trekking to see him, DiGiacomo says.

“In reality, the philosophers whose teachings changed the world were the kind of people who rolled up their sleeves, got to work, dug deep, and spoke up despite hardship, resistance and even threat of death,” she says. “Their views aren’t some abstract idea but have practical applications in today’s world.”

So, if Aristotle, Socrates, Voltaire and Immanuel Kant opened a corporate consulting business, here are a few things they would tell you about moving your business forward as the world tries to recover from COVID-19:

Don’t be rushed into rash decisions. Voltaire said “doubt is an unpleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” Sometimes CEOs feel the need to make quick decisions, perhaps to avoid seeming indecisive. That’s not always the best approach, DiGiacomo says. “Are you making critical decisions, with long-term consequences, on the fly without actually having developed your ability to deliberate?” she asks. “Our reactionary mind wants us to set it and forget it, so it can move onto the next thing.” Resist that temptation.

Avoid letting your “darkest moments” color reality. Immanuel Kant, among others, believed your mind shapes and structures your experience. “Your mind influences to a very large degree how you see the world and how you feel about it,” DiGiacomo says. “Those things you say to yourself, in those darkest moments, are shaping your reality. But it’s entirely possible that those thoughts you have about what you think reality is might not always be true.” She says it helps to “hit the pause button” and make sure the situation is what you think it is.

Say “I don’t know” even if you think you know. The country faces uncertain times over the next several months, but that’s not unusual, DiGiacomo says. The future is always uncertain – coronavirus or no coronavirus. One of her favorite quotes from Socrates is: “I know that I know not, and that makes me a wise man.” DiGiacomo says being in “I don’t know” mode releases your mind to discover new solutions and ideas. “If you constantly believe you know everything,” she says, “then there’s no impetus for your mind to be creative or continue to look for new information.”

And finally, DiGiacomo says, Aristotle offers encouragement for business leaders who are afraid they aren’t up to the task of making wise decisions. “Aristotle’s foundational idea of being human is that we are all wise, inherently,” she says. “It’s just a matter of tapping into that innate wisdom and building the skills that will help you to not only be wise, but to act wisely.”

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Cristina DiGiacomo (www.cristinadigiacomo.com), author of Wise Up! At Work, is the founder of MorAlchemy, a philosophical consulting firm. She also is the inventor of industrial philosophy and is the driving force behind the idea of applying philosophy in the workplace for the benefit of the leadership of organizations. DiGiacomo has 20 years of corporate executive experience at companies such as The New York Times, Citigroup, AMC Networks, and R/GA. She holds a master’s degree in Organizational Change Management from The New School. She also dedicated nine years to the study and practice of philosophy.

shippers'

Shippers’ New 2020 Priorities

While cities and states are slowly reopening, there is still significant uncertainty surrounding the global economy and when we’ll head towards recovery. Shippers are experiencing never-before-seen challenges and, in maneuvering them, realize it’s vital to understand the change in consumer behavior and how it impacts the supply chain.

A recent Consumer Brands’ Association Coronavirus Survey found 68% of Americans are optimistic about the next 6 months and the United States’ ability to reopen the economy. Despite consumer mentality improving, shippers’ concerns on COVID-19’s impact on the supply chain remain top of mind.

While some industries experienced a surge in demand, including healthcare, grocery and consumer packaged goods (CPG), this hasn’t been the case across the board. Some faced a reduction or, in some cases, a complete halt in business. These new challenges and concerns have led shippers to shift their strategies and develop new priorities for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

Shippers’ Top Priorities

As reported in the recent Q2 2020 Coyote Curve Market Forecast, the truckload market has likely already hit the bottom in Q2 at a -9% spot rate, and contract and spot rates should more or less converge from here. Due to the circumstances, the rate environment will most likely be more forgiving than usual, but it will definitely be volatile; and, with rates regularly fluctuating, shippers must keep their key priorities top of mind.

First and foremost, shippers’ top priority is keeping their people safe during this unprecedented time. They’re also focusing on keeping team members productive despite disruption, making necessary strategic shifts in production, managing rapid and frequent shifts in demand, and maintaining operational efficiency.

The priorities for those experiencing an influx of demand are quite different from those seeing a decrease. Shippers in surging markets are focused on supporting frontline employees by ensuring their facilities have necessary crucial safety items like personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kits, and sanitization products.

The industries experiencing a downturn, such as durable goods, have been focused on keeping their businesses operating and their people productive. They’ve had to prioritize repurposing available capacity to streamline operations, while others have turned to private fleets to haul less-than-truckload or full truckload shipments. To support COVID-19 relief efforts, some industries even shifted their production lines completely, like automotive manufacturers producing ventilators or clothing manufacturers making masks and scrubs.

Other shipper priorities include managing increased production output, despite lower processing rates. These lower rates come from new facility regulations mandating safety procedures, social distancing, and fewer employees per shift, resulting in less efficiency. Shippers are also dealing with a less frequent transportation schedule and imbalanced inventory, adding to the struggle of keeping supply chains running smoothly.

A new 2020 for shippers

Regardless of the industry a shipper operates within, the outlook for the remainder of 2020 is much different than originally planned. The entire supply chain realizes the importance of developing new strategies to adhere to the current situation and prepare for future disruptions.

Shipping processes will inevitably change to improve supply chain visibility and automation and update future inventory and warehousing procedures. These new plans and strategies focus less on short-term, cost-based decisions, and more on proactivity, flexibility, and efficiency.

Shippers have rewritten their 2020 plans to address these new priorities. While some tactics have higher initial costs, investing now will allow shippers to better recover from future disruptions. Other new strategies include:

-Collaborating with other shippers to garner insights and best practices

-Creating pop-up fleets at surging origin points

-Focusing productions on the lines making the most, the fastest

-Working with 3PL providers that offer flexible, instant capacity to haul freight

-Moving live-load pick-ups and deliveries into temporary drop trailers

-Reducing number of SKUs to eliminate unnecessary variety

What comes next

 Some shippers have found it easy to identify ways to better prepare their businesses for future disruption and have established new processes to do so. However, this doesn’t mean they have avoided uncertainty altogether. Shippers are asking themselves three key questions:

-How do I keep my employees healthy and safe?

-How do I keep my facilities up and running efficiently?

-How do I limit disruption to my supply chain?

Since COVID-19, shippers immediately made shifts to maneuver the unthinkable. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer as to when or how shippers will see less market volatility, and they may even see more complexities in the meantime. This brings additional geographic and industry disparities.

As the economy moves towards recovery, we anticipate a surge in demand and a corresponding increase in volume. Industries, especially those whose shippers slowed down, will have lean inventories and, when demand rises, need to increase production. While shippers’ results may differ from their original 2020 goals, we believe a recovery in consumer demand will be here soon.

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Nick Shroeger is the Chief Network Solutions Officer at Coyote, a leading global third-party logistics provider headquartered in Chicago. Since joining the Coyote team in July 2009, Nick has been a key leader in identifying challenges of the supply chain industry and developing and scaling solutions. In his current role, Nick leads Coyote’s research and innovation efforts for both shipper and carrier solutions as well as network connectivity with Coyote’s parent company, UPS.

sustainable

How To Make Your Business More Financially Sustainable after COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak in December 2019 came at a time when the global economy was trying to get its act together after being slowed down for a while by trade tensions, especially between China and the US. The much-needed transition towards sustainable manufacturing and clean energy has also played a part in slowing down the global economy, but for a good reason.

When the virus checked into town, all the gains we have experienced over the last decade were turned upside down. Businesses now have to address the health, social, and economic impacts of the coronavirus on top of the already existing geopolitical (e.g. Brexit) issues that impact the business.

Supply chains all over the world have been disrupted by the pandemic, millions of working citizens infected, hundreds of thousands dead, and billions of potential customers rendered jobless. To compound these miseries, most markets are under lockdown, and no one knows for sure when life will get back to normal. The big question now remains: How will business people make their businesses more financially sustainable after COVID-19? Here are 5 measures you can take as a business leader to counter the financial impact of the coronavirus:

1. Leverage employment organizations when expanding internationally

If your intentions were to expand to international markets, or if you had already opened shop overseas, you can collaborate with professional employment organizations to source for and compensate employees. You can, for example, count on a Japan employer of record to help you to establish presence and support personnel in Japan cost-effectively and efficiently. They will help you hire new talents, manage existing staff, and navigate the legal requirements and obligations that come with business ownership in Japan. When you don’t have to worry about managing employee payrolls and compliance issues, or to hire an HR department for that matter, you are able to save on overhead costs until your business recovers fully from the coronavirus shock.

2. Re-evaluate your supply chains

The coronavirus has grossly exposed the vulnerabilities of global supply chains. Companies that depended entirely on Chinese manufacturers or raw materials have been forced to close down temporarily with some closing shop completely. Businesses that will survive this pandemic have to look beyond first- and second-tier suppliers, especially for their key products’ raw materials, and expand their supply lines to bring in more players. Businesses also have to expand their markets. Having a contingency “plan B” will not be enough. You will need to diversify in all aspects of your business so that if one line closes or is unable to recover fast from the pandemic, you will always have alternatives.

3. Reach out to customers

Do everything that you can to retain your main customers. If they owe you, don’t be quick to pressurize them to pay because they are also struggling to get back on their feet. You can loosen repayment terms a bit to accommodate the new normal- this is one of the small prices you may have to pay in order to keep your business afloat. Your lenders are probably doing the same for you. The most important thing here is to maintain open communication lines with your debtors, creditors, and other clients and being honest with one another in case of any payment difficulties. In the long run, when you are all back on your feet, you will still have your customers, and cash will start flowing in as it used to.

Reaching out to customers also means reaching out to new markets, or offering more products to your existing market. If your existing market isn’t recovering as fast as other markets, it is okay to move your business elsewhere. If one of your competitors has closed shop, this is your chance to move in for their customers. Be courageous to fill in every gap that the virus could have created within your market, and to explore other options that could bring in additional cash provided they won’t compromise your brand identity.

4. Update your terms and conditions

There are some terms and conditions that you have held on for too long, some of which have left your business vulnerable during the ongoing pandemic. This is the time to scrap them all and create better terms that protect you from future crises. In fact, you would rather pull out of a contract now and pay the cancellation fee, rather than push on with it and incur losses in the end.

Going forward, you need to take a proactive approach in revenue, employee, clients, and commercial risks management. Crisis management is a process; not just an event. You will need all the teamwork and support that you can get if you are to pull this off. Flex your network and get rid of any dead weight.

history factory

History Factory Launches COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project

Collaborative resource collects, curates and preserves the corporate response to COVID-19 to inform future crisis response

The COVID-19 pandemic has required that corporations respond, adapt, lead, and serve others with greater urgency than any other global event since World War II. As a result, corporations are making history and learning lessons in real-time that can inform a stronger corporate response to the next major global disruption. To make those lessons more readily available, History Factory is launching the COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project, a living archival resource to which business leaders can turn for a greater understanding of the corporate response to the current crisis as well as for insight and guidance for how to prepare for and respond effectively to the next crisis.

The COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project is a free and collaborative resource designed to collect, curate, and preserve the real-time history of the pandemic as it is being made by corporations who are responding to the crisis and influencing its outcome.

At c19corporatememory.org, History Factory is combining crowdsourced content from corporate contributors with publicly available media coverage, press releases, social media posts and statements, documents, photography, video and a range of other digital materials related to the pandemic’s impact on the business world. The material is organized in four categories that reflect the realms in which corporations are responding to the pandemic, listed here with an example from each:

-The Changing Nature of Work: Ford engineers continue to work on the new Mustang in their home garages.

-Fighting the Pandemic: New Balance pivots to produce a general-use face mask.

-Leading in a Crisis:  Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford confident of food production but warns of distribution issues.

-Service and Community: Starbucks fights hunger.

The Project’s primary focus is on collecting content from large corporations and has already curated more than 300 assets from such corporations as Airbnb, Kimberly-Clark, Marriott, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Uber, and The Walt Disney Company. How these enterprises respond and adapt to the global pandemic will be critical to shaping its outcome, politically, technologically, and socially. The goal is to extract learning from their experiences.

Laurie Barnett, Southwest Airlines’ Managing Director, Communications & Outreach, said:

“By contributing to the COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project we can help other corporate executives learn from our experience of the pandemic. And we hope that many other corporations will participate so that we can learn from them. It would be a shame for us as leaders to work so hard to overcome this unprecedented moment without capturing – in a way that can benefit us all – the real-time decisions, innovations and contributions we are making as we rise to meet this challenge.”

Eliot Mizrachi, Vice President, Communications & Content at Page, said:

“Communication leaders on the front lines of their organizations’ pandemic response are hungry for best practices. The COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project is a unique sharing platform that can help corporate leaders find out how others are navigating this historic crisis. I encourage communicators to contribute.”

Jason Dressel, Managing Director at History Factory, said:

“History Factory decided to create the COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project as a pro bono service to provide leaders, corporate communicators, and journalists with easy access to a real-time archive of content focused solely on how corporations are responding to one of the greatest challenges in modern history. With forty years in the business of collecting, curating, and communicating corporate experience, we understand how a resource that showcases lessons learned from this pandemic can help business leaders drive strategy and business planning going forward. We will continue to add to this Project as long as COVID-19 is driving corporate behavior. We hope that it will become an important source of study for years to come.”

History Factory welcomes submissions from all corners of the media and business world. Visit c19corporatememory.org and click SUBMIT to contribute content to the archive or to contact History Factory regarding bulk submissions or very large files.

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Founded in 1979, History Factory is an agency that helps corporations employ their most underused assets – their history and heritage – to enhance and transform strategy, brand positioning, marketing, and communications that drive measurable results.