Negotiating Tip #42:
Moving Fast After the Crisis as Well as During It
A crisis can be an opportunity, and the Covid19 pandemic is no exception. During the crisis, many firms thought more creatively than they ever had before. We at Mobus Creative Negotiating can help you think through the lessons to be drawn from that unparalleled flexibility and quick action.
Among the many cases of amazing responsiveness, consider the Thursday March 19 phone call from Mayo Clinic to Ford Motor Company about the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospital workers. Ford had no experience making PPE. But by Saturday, in consultation with local hospitals, they had settled on a design and identified suppliers and a manufacturing facility. Sunday, supplies began to arrive and medical professionals tested the prototype. Monday, the Food and Drug Administration and Ford’s legal department signed off. Tuesday, the first batch was delivered to hospitals.
By April 10 – 3 weeks from the initial phone call – Ford had produced 2.4 million PPE. This speed and agility in a company with a huge bureaucracy and powerful labor unions – one that was a decade late responding to the challenge from Elon Musk’s electric car that now dominates the market (for more on this and other such stories, see John Stroll’s April 11 Wall Street Journal column, “Sometimes, It Takes a Crisis to Spur Innovation” – it’s behind a paywall).
Many hospitals acted in a similar nimble way. The April 12 Washington Post described how Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck NJ in a few weeks went from 19 intensive care unit (ICU) beds to 106, some in spaces that in mid-March had not had electricity or running water. They also changed procedures to reduce the PPE used by 80 percent.
Every company, no matter how much or how little they have been affected by covid19, should learn from the extraordinary responsiveness the crisis has evoked. This is a good opportunity to reexamine every aspect of how you are doing things to ask: is that really the best way to do things? Would the gains from being more nimble outweigh the risks from shortcutting our current procedures?