Arthur D. Little's novel response to coronavirus for business CEOs

26 March 2020 Consultancy.asia

The coronavirus has forced the world to flex its creative muscle, whether it simply to stave off boredom during the long hours spent in isolation or, in the case of management consultancy Arthur D. Little, coming up with clever ideas to aid beleaguered big business through the crisis.

As most of the world’s population is ordered into isolation, keeping connected through the internet and social media, much of the commentary on the response to the unfolding coronavirus crisis has been conversely around a renewed sense of community (supermarket brawls withstanding). But has anyone stopped to spare a thought for those high-flying CEOs among us, possibly grounded themselves, the multibillion dollar corporations they run facing financial ruin?

Probably not. Still, those same CEOs guide businesses which employ hundreds of millions of people across the world (the Big Four and Accenture combined employ more than 1.5 million alone, while the global consulting industry itself faces a possible 20 percent downturn), and so it’s probably best that we show them our support. Management consultancy Arthur D. Little has devised a novel way to do that just that, drawing on the experiences of the wider community.

Often noted as being the world’s oldest management consulting firm (and so it’s nice to think somehow the wisest), Arthur D. Little has established an international platform for under pressure chief executive officers to exchange crisis management experiences while dealing with COVID-19. That’s right, CEOs from China and Italy and other parts of the world coming together as an online community to share stories of support in these troubling times.

Arthur D. Little's novel response to coronavirus for business CEOs

“After seeing how COVID-19 is affecting businesses globally, we came up with the idea of connecting international CEOs to find out how they were going about their crisis management,” said Karim Taga, who heads up the global Telecommunications, Information Technology, Media and Electronics (TIME) practice of Arthur D. Little. The end result of that idea is a series of scheduled one-hour conference calls for CEOs to pool their knowledge. 

And it’s not just jobs the general public should be concerned about in supporting business leaders. ADL’s pro bono initiative (under the motto, “Learning from each other and coping with the crisis together”) is focused on supporting CEOs of critical infrastructure, such as those running companies in the energy, transport, telecommunications and logistics domains – without which there would be no internet for distraction or even toilet paper to fight over to begin with. 

 “In challenging times, rapid and global measures are required for the effective transfer of know-how between decision-makers,” said ADL’s own CEO Ignacio García Alves. “With each country facing different stages of COVID-19, it is important for those who are just at the beginning of the crisis to learn from those who have already put effective measures in place. Let’s work together to defeat COVID-19 by spreading knowledge and best practice quicker than the virus!”

Despite the saccharine overtones of ADLs initiative, there is a genuine importance in pausing our most competitive instincts and working together as a community during these unprecedented and uncertain times. “Our conference calls have shown how focused action is being taken during this crisis, but most importantly, we are realising how important cohesion is – in companies, in cooperation with government measures, and with public authorities,” concludes Taga.


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