Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most disruptive situations that many of us have faced. What was a “luxury” for executives, and a “reward” for top performers, telework has become a necessity for many organizations in the present situation. For a few years, working from home was becoming a popular option for many Americans. In fact, by 2019, about 43% of workers were teleworking at least part of the time. An additional 25 – 30% of employees have had to work from home full-time since the “lock down” began. Many companies are anticipating that telework arrangements will continue after the pandemic. Some, like REI and Nationwide Insurance, have begun to close facilities based on that expectation.
Anyone who has ever tried to ride a bicycle up a very steep hill knows how hard it can be. If you don't use the correct gear to maximize your climbing force, it is pretty much impossible. It's a different story once you're back on a straight path - after some momentum, you can go flick to another gear and make the wheels spin around even quicker than you're pedaling.
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned a painful lesson about outsourcing. The fact that there few or no domestic manufacturers of ventilators, face masks, and other critical medical equipment and supplies added to the severity and spread of the virus. In addition to the medical supply industry, 60% of manufacturers experienced significant disruptions in their supply chain. It is time to take a hard look at insourcing/reshoring as part of America’s strategic preparedness plan, and that is exactly what astute manufacturers are doing.
After two decades of focusing on risk management in a continually disruptive business environment, the epic failure of preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching American companies a hard lesson. It’s time to rethink how organizations approach risk management. If we didn’t understand that many risk management plans are the result of known implications and proven mitigation efforts in a static environment, we surely do now. There is nothing static about this virus. Nor can we expect the next crisis to be more predictable in what has become a globally volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment (“VUCA”). This pandemic is an opportunity for risk managers to reimagine their approach for a highly uncertain future.
Traditionally, school curricula focused on the ability to read, write, and communicate. As science and technology have advanced, “literacy” has taken on a much broader definition. The contemporary belief is that students must be proficient and fluent in technology tools, be able to manage, synthesize, analyze and critique multiple information streams of simultaneous information, all while maintaining ethical standards. These tasks are even more daunting in a world where globalization has encouraged (or even required in many roles) cross-cultural relationships for ideation, information-sharing, and problem-solving. Soft skills like collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking have become must-have “new literacy” for job applicants. In fact, an Oxford University study found that as many as 47 percent of jobs in the United States will become wholly automated within the next 20 years. This will lead to a transformation of labor, and will generate new job opportunities.
Creativity is a skill most people have instinctually. We “practice” it” daily, whether consciously or purposefully. As we reflect on our accomplishments at work, for example, we find that to be a source of motivation. In fact, Kaizen, or “continuous improvement,” has as its central tenant an innate and unlimited ability to innovate and create. Here we will look at some catalysts for creativity and some hindrances as well.
People don’t quit their jobs, they leave their toxic/incompetent leaders. Successful companies need a laser focus on developing effective leadership skills. The style of micro- management and command and control that prevailed years ago is irrelevant. The cornerstone of success in today’s employment environment depends on relationship-building that begins with a leader’s ability to facilitate authentic, nurturing relationships with colleagues and clients – especially in these difficult times of the COVID pandemic.
In our last article, we outlined the benefits of exhibiting at a virtual trade show. But how can you ensure your company stands out among the rest?
Sketches and models are an essential stage in the engineering design process. However, 2D computer-aided design models do not always have the precision needed to solve complex problems.
In order to solve problems effectively, engineers must learn to innovate. For them to design new products and services or improve on those that have already been created, a creative mindset is essential. This continuous innovation is essential for driving economic and societal growth.
How do you get yourself into a creative mindset? Do you swear by a round of push-ups each morning, or do you eat the same thing each day? Maybe your best work is done to the sound of the morning birds, or you can only get down to brass tacks once the sun has gone down.
Whatever your preferences, one thing is for sure: whether they are writers, artists, or mechanical engineers, creative people don't rely on sudden revelations. Instead, their insights come from a consistent pattern and routine to their days. It is the mastery of everyday habits (not some mysterious spark of inspiration) which leads to success.