Risk Management Article

Richard Harpster’s picture

By: Richard Harpster

As someone who has helped companies in a wide variety of industries for the last 30 years solve many problems using risk-based thinking, I cannot think of an issue that I have worked on that is more important than preventing the spread of Covid-19. With three high-risk people in my home, I have spent considerable time studying Covid-19 since February 2020. By applying the risk-based thinking techniques I have used, I believe there is a method for saving 100,000 lives before we get the protection the new vaccines are going to provide during the next three or four months.

Bahar Aliakbarian’s picture

By: Bahar Aliakbarian

The two major U.S. developers of the early Covid-19 vaccines are Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. They both developed mRNA vaccines, a relatively new type of vaccine. A major supply-chain issue is the temperature requirement for these vaccines.

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at between –112° F (–80° C) and –94° F (–70° C), and the Moderna vaccine needs temperatures around –4° F (–20° C), which is close to the temperature of commercial-grade freezers. A third company developing vaccines, AstraZeneca, says it needs regular refrigeration temperature of 36° F to 46° F, or 2° to 8° C.

Multiple Authors
By: Thomas Malnight, Ivy Buche

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted different responses from company CEOs seeking to ensure their businesses survive. Keeping their employees safe has been the first priority, but beyond that, their task has involved understanding the situation, launching countermeasures, and trying to evolve ways of working to ensure their businesses can continue.

We spoke to the chief executives of three major companies in three very different industries. In their responses to the crisis, we found that Winston Churchill’s adage, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” was as relevant as ever, with businesses finding positives during the pandemic.

Accelerate strategy

Shipping giant A.P. Moller - Maersk embarked on an historic transformation in 2016 to become an integrated transport and logistics company—combining its shipping line, port operations, and freight forwarding businesses into a single entity. However, progress had been limited.

Tim Waldo’s picture

By: Tim Waldo

If you are like many small and medium-sized manufacturers, finding good help has been a pain point for many years, and it has become even more difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic. The market forces driving that dynamic are not likely to change soon.

Your shop has had to become more adaptive and responsive in operations during this uncertainty, facing many challenges but also opportunities. You can take a similar approach to hiring and developing your people. The same principles that apply to lean manufacturing and continuous improvement in production processes also apply to recruiting, management, and performance of people. If you could improve your system, you can improve your performance.

What is systems thinking?

Systems thinking is a toolkit, or a type of language that describes how systems interact through various connections and feedback. Systems thinking is a holistic way to see connections through:
• Feedback loops
• Relationships (direct and indirect)
• Interactions and influences
• Systems within systems

Barry Richmond was a leader in the fields of systems thinking and system dynamics. He emphasized that people embracing systems thinking position themselves so that they can see both the forest and the trees, with one eye on each.

Ken Voytek’s picture

By: Ken Voytek

During the past few years, I have written more than a few blogs and papers looking at manufacturing productivity across the 50 states. I wanted to update some of these analyses to reflect more recent data, see what they tell us, and examine how states were performing when looking at the change in real manufacturing GDP since the Great Recession, but before the Covid-19 pandemic. After all, how do we know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been?

The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic will be difficult to predict or parse long term due to a number of variables, including sector, changes in demand, or likelihood the manufacturer was deemed essential during the spring 2020 closures. However, despite these variables, we can safely assume that issues existing before the pandemic will still affect manufacturers during and after the pandemic.

Natalie Weber’s picture

By: Natalie Weber

Unlike Covid-19, remote audits aren’t unprecedented. Remote audits didn’t start with the pandemic, although it has forced more companies to use them than previously. At MasterControl, we’ve been doing remote audits for years for our international customers. It saves time and expense, and it’s every bit as effective as an in-person audit.

However, this is only true because we operate in a digital environment. Using a paper system would significantly hinder remote audits.

This is largely still the case. The difference between pre-pandemic remote audits and those of the “new normal” is the sheer number that are being done, in many cases by those who have never done them before. Doing a remote audit is difficult to wrap your head around if your audit usually requires scouring binders for paperwork and completing a site walk. Mastering remote audits now will be worth it even after the pandemic is over.

Sanjay Mishra’s picture

By: Sanjay Mishra

As the weather cools, the number of infections of the Covid-19 pandemic are rising sharply. Hamstrung by pandemic fatigue, economic constraints, and political discord, public health officials have struggled to control the surging pandemic. But now, a rush of interim analyses from pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have spurred optimism that a novel type of vaccine made from messenger RNA, known as mRNA, can offer high levels of protection by preventing Covid-19 among people who are vaccinated.

Although unpublished, these preliminary reports have exceeded the expectations of many vaccine experts, including mine. Until early this year, I worked on developing vaccine candidates against Zika and dengue. Now I am coordinating an international effort to collect reports on adult patients with current or previous cancers who have also been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Nader Moayeri’s picture

By: Nader Moayeri

I am part of a grassroots effort at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that is developing an exposure notification system for pandemics in general, though we hope it could be used in at least a limited fashion during the current Covid-19 pandemic. We are fortunate at NIST to have all the expertise required to tackle this multidisciplinary problem, solutions to which have the potential to save many lives and hasten economic recovery by helping to reopen our nation.

Contact tracing has been used to blunt the spread of pandemics since the 19th century. In its usual form, health workers conduct interviews with folks who have tested positive for the infectious disease to find out whom they have been in contact with during a certain period before testing. They also learn the length of time people were together and how close they got to one another. The health worker then traces those contacts to let them know they may have been exposed so that they can self-isolate or get tested. This process can be slow and labor-intensive and may not identify every contact. It relies on the infected person remembering all their contacts and the health worker being able to locate those individuals in a timely fashion to stop them from further spreading the disease.

Alper Kerman’s picture

By: Alper Kerman

Huh? What? At least that was my response the first time I heard the words "zero trust" when I started working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) in the fall of 2018. Mind you, I was also making a fresh start with an enormous jump to cybersecurity from a career track that had generally been in software engineering.

Sure, I did design and develop secure software solutions and even put together secure systems and platforms at times throughout my career, but zero trust seemed like a different ballgame to me. For one thing, it didn't have a fence.

What do I mean by that? Well, the traditional approach to cybersecurity relies on barriers—firewalls—that control traffic coming in and out of a network. Zero trust, on the other hand, is about assuming no barriers. It is usually mentioned in the same breath as "removing perimeters," "shrinking perimeters," "reducing perimeters," or "going perimeter-less." These are common references to the idea of "de-perimeterization," which was originally introduced by a group called the Jericho Forum back in 2005.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

Does the phrase “garbage in—garbage out” (GIGO) ring a bell? That’s the idea that if you use flawed, low-quality information to inform your decisions and actions, you’ll end up with a rubbish outcome. Yet despite the popularity of the phrase, we see such bad outcomes informed by poor data all the time.

In one of the worst recent business disasters, two crashes of Boeing’s 737 Max airplane killed 346 people and led to Boeing losing more than $25 billion in market capitalization as well as more than $5 billion in direct revenue. We know from internal Boeing emails that many Boeing employees in production and testing knew about the quality problems with the design of the 737 Max; a number communicated these problems to the senior leadership.

However, as evidenced by the terrible outcome, the data collection and dissemination process at Boeing failed to take in such information effectively. The leadership instead relied on falsely optimistic evidence of the safety of the 737 Max in their rush to compete with the Airbus A320 model, which was increasingly outcompeting Boeing’s offerings.

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