Knowledge Centre:
News Digests

Stay abreast of what’s happening internationally with developments in corporate public affairs. Here is news that you may find useful and interesting:

Working Through COVID-19 Together

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Applying past leadership lessons to the coronavirus pandemic

McKinsey & Company, March 2020

The career of a manager can rise and fall on their ability to rally their teams, project confidence, take decisive action, and communicate effectively during a crisis. McKinsey spoke to three senior advisors about their stories and experiences of leadership in moments of disruption and upheaval. Hugo Bague was group executive of organizational resources at Rio Tinto during the Ebola crisis in 2015-16; Jeff Cava was chief human-resources officer at Nike during two major economic crises, and at Wendy’s in 2003 during the SARS outbreak; and Manley Hopkinson, served as an officer in the Royal Navy during the first Gulf War. The three senior advisors answer questions on delegating responsibility, collaboration, leadership messaging, and managing stakeholder relationships during a global crisis.

To read the conversation go to McKinsey & Company



Are You Leading Through the Crisis … or Managing the Response?

Eric J. McNulty & Leonard Marcus, Harvard Business Review, March 25, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, it is useful to distinguish what ‘was’, ‘is’, and ‘will be’ during a crisis. The actions that executives and their decision-making teams make now, in the midst of the crisis, will significantly determine the fate of their organisation. Crises are filled with complexity and change; addressing the need of the present requires executives and crisis managers to lead and operate effectively. Leaders must also focus on what is likely to come next, and allocating resources to meet this. For nearly two decades, HBR have researched and observed public and private sector executives in high-stakes, high-pressure situations. They’ve learned that crises are most often over-managed and under-led. The most effective leaders energise organisations and inspire communities. The four leadership traps are explored in this article.

To read more about the four leadership traps go to Harvard Business Review



Coronavirus Emails From Companies May Not Be Calming to Customers

Chris Kornelis, The Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2020

Large and small businesses have been sending emails to reassure customers during the coronavirus pandemic of improved cleaning and social-distancing measures being used in their businesses. While some emails are warranted such as store closures, Soo Kim, assistant professor of marketing at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, said: “People don’t like to keep being reminded of information they don’t want to face.” Other commentators argue that by staying quiet during a global health outbreak, it presents its own risks as consumers now expect brands to take positions on political and social issues. For businesses today, finding the right balance is crucial. When Levis Strauss & Co. decided to close its stores, it sent a short email: “No one wants to get a bunch of emails from brands and stores saying what they are doing,” said Levi’s Chief Marketing Officer Jen Sey.

To view the full story go to The Wall Street Journal



Here’s how social media can combat the coronavirus ‘infodemic’

Joan Donovan, MIT Technology Review, March 17, 2020

Social media is becoming the most important tool for families, friends and coworkers, as society grapples with the massive and growing coronavirus pandemic which is causing countries to shut down. As the world becomes more isolated, social media and the internet will play an even more crucial role in the quest for information related to the virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) worries that in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, it will also be fighting an infodemic, which is defined as “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidelines when they need it.” Without clear strategies to prevent the spread of bad information, a lot can go wrong. While assessing the impact of misinformation is difficult, social media companies have learned that doing nothing is harmful to society. The first way to tackle the infodemic is to sort, rank and prioritize true and reliable information. The second is to enable government emergency alert systems across social media platforms, to ensure critical information is prioritized. This is the only way to keep rumors from dominating the headlines.

For the full story go to MIT Technology Review



Communication Is More Important Now Than Ever Before: 9 Ways To Reassure And Re-Engage Your Team

Tracy Brower, Forbes, March 16, 2020

The situation being faced due to coronavirus and COVID-19 is causing uncertainty and is changing rapidly which is placing more importance on the way a business leader communicates. As a leader, how should you communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to have the right communication strategy. Forbes provides nine tips for business leaders to consider.

To view the full story go to Forbes



8 Questions Employers Should Ask About Coronavirus

Jeff Levin-Scherz & Deana Allen, Harvard Business Review, March 15, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak is a wake-up call for companies to carefully review their internal policies, and procedures that protect employees, customers, and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Harvard Business Review lists eight questions that companies should ask themselves as they deal with this crisis.

To view the eight questions that companies should ask go to HBR now



Crisis communication researcher shares five key principles that officials should use in coronavirus

Matthew Seeger, The Conversation, March 7, 2020

Crises are time-sensitive events that require quick decisions and actions to contain the issue, and telling people what to do during a crisis is critical to limiting and containing the harm it is causing. Matthew Seeger was part of the group of academics that helped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) develop their crisis and emergency risk communication materials for public health outbreaks. The CDC program and other effective crisis communication principles, are explained in the article.

To read more about effective crisis communication principles go to The Conversation



COVID 19: Confidently navigate through the coronavirus crisis

PwC, March 2020

Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) brings together a list of responses to improve the situation that has been affected by COVID-19. The list includes: creating a dedicated crisis team, verifying the facts, internal and external collaboration, and produce an inclusive stakeholder communications strategy.

For the full story go to PwC



The CIO’s moment: Leadership through the first wave of the coronavirus crisis

McKinsey Digital, March 2020

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are playing a crucial role during the coronavirus outbreak as they grapple with the economic and social implications. McKinsey Digital spoke with more than 100 CIOs at global companies about what the function should focus their energies on in the next 60 to 90 days.

To view the ten actions CIOs should focus on go to McKinsey Digital



Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges

McKinsey & Company, March 2020

McKinsey & Company provides five leadership practices that can be used by executives to help respond effectively to the coronavirus pandemic.

To view the five leadership practices go to McKinsey & Company



Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis

Martin Reeves, Nikolaus Lang and Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, Harvard Business Review, February 27, 2020

Harvard Business Review details 12 lessons that is based on analysis and evaluation which can be used to respond to unfolding events, and communicating, and extracting and applying learnings to future crises.

For the full list go to the Harvard Business Review



With the COVID-19 coronavirus threatening to become a pandemic, HKS Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem says globalization has changed the nature of the crises we face — and that crisis managers need to respond.

Juliette Kayyem, Harvard Kennedy School, February 25, 2020

Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem – who played a crucial role in managing the US’ response to the H1N1 virus (swine flu) pandemic in 2009, speaks to PolicyCast about how crisis managers can respond to the global coronavirus pandemic. “The nature of the crises we’re facing on a global scale is that they are very hard to limit,” she says. Kayyem goes on to tell PolicyCast that there is already a well-established playbook for responding to a local, regional and global crisis but planning ahead for a “black swan” event is often complicated. In preparing for a world embattling a pandemic, Kayyem says measuring success sometimes means being happy that things could have been worse.

To listen to the podcast now go to Harvard Kennedy School

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