DAILY BRIEFINGS ON BUSINESS UNUSUAL
IN OUR NEW NORMAL

COMMUNITY WEBCAST

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AHA! BIZ

EPISODE 6

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AHA! Hero
A sales manager from an international electrical and electronics conglomerate

Background
This conglomerate provides automation products and solutions for some of the largest manufacturing companies around the world. Their foresight has always helped them prepare for crises, and COVID-19, albeit an unprecedented pandemic, was no exception.

COVID Context
Their main struggle since COVID is in selling to customers and delivering much-needed items to them since the lockdown.

AHA! #1
Stay visible to customers - Clients used to be busy at work, now they’re stuck at home. To this company, this is the best time to promote and invest on customer relationships. Instead of selling to their customers, they invested in software that helps them do product demos together with the product experts from Europe and Asia.

AHA! #2
Go the extra mile - Being there for customers during a crisis is as much "show" as it is "tell." Some products were not delivered due to restrictions since the lockdown, so this company's people regularly follow up with customs and monitoring international trips. They would even go so far as increasing delivery costs to make sure clients receive what they need. Why go thrrough such great lengths? Because they know how important their products are to their customers. Their clients are manufacturers of food, beverages--necessary items that serve the public. When their clients cannot afford to shut down, they refuse to, either.

AHA! #3
Connect with stakeholders - While other companies are at a standstill, this one keeps their ears on the ground, always planning ahead. Their leaders know that they don’t have all the answers, so they ask their teams to interview customers on the ground, how are they doing, what are they anticipating. They make forecasts and strategize for the big reset, using the data coming from their stakeholders, instead of relying on assumptions from home.

AHA! Hero
An accounts manager from a creative media agency

Background
This media agency is known for its colorful, playful and collaborative office space. Since all of their services are integrated in one umbrella, they abolished silos within their employees and encouraged everyone to work together. This agency is very agile with what they do because they deal with a lot of clients.

COVID Context
Since they cannot use their physical office space due to COVID, they made their colorful, playful, and collaborative office space virtual. The company took the extra mile to alleviate its employees' anxieties brought about by the crisis and make it seem like business as usual for them.

AHA! #1
Stronger employee engagement They organized different kinds of meetings open to everyone in the company for them to bond together virtually, such as playing online Pictionary together. They hold weekly "Bored Meetings" where the employees do different activities together online. These meetings are facilitated by the agency's leadership team and the attendance is not compulsory. They also do meetings to share about topics that can further distract them from the pandemic. In these meetings, they share to each other various topics ranging from physical activities and exercises they can do while stuck at home to food that they cook to help them relax. A guide for coping with anxiety called Coping-19 is also released to the employees to help them further cope with the crisis.

AHA! #2
Business as usual In their weekly Coffee-19 meetings, the employees meet with their company's CEO and managing partner. Coffee-19 serves as their virtual "kapihan" where the executives ask their employees' situation amid the crisis. They also hold weekly checkpoints with their business directors to discuss their little wins during the week. These little wins can boost the teams' morale and continue to be productive despite the situation.

AHA! Hero
WTA Design Studio

Background
Established in 2003 and headed by Principal Architect William Ti, Principal Architect, WTA Design Studio is one of the leading architecture and design firms in the country, specializing in hotels, condominiums, malls and other development projects.

COVID Context
Recently, William Ti had a discussion with his doctor friends and asked them about the some of the biggest problems posed by the Coronavirus in the PH context. One of the biggest problems he discovered is the lack of quarantine facilities for Persons Under Investigation or PUI, which results in these PUI being sent home because hospitals just could not accommodate them. So, in a bid to contribute to the crisis using their own skills and resources, they decided to create a design for an Emergency Quarantine Facility or EQF. This is a housing facility for 15-30 people where they stay for 15-21 days depending on medical advice. It is meant to contain and avoid further spread of the virus.

AHA! #1
Genius, Purpose and Service. As architects, they have been very conscious about what they can do to help alleviate the problems posed by the pandemic using their own gifts. It was about identifying particular pain which they were drawn and gifted to heal. The concept of Social architecture has always been in the DNA of the firm. It is about creating structures with communities in mind, architecture with a social purpose. And this pandemic has definitely presented the opportunity for them to design for what matters most during these times. Willaim Ti says, “As an architect I personally have a very strong attachment to the city and I really cannot stand by as we watch our city crumble. We owe our medical frontliners all the help we can give. We have to act as a community so that the medical community can in turn save the rest of us.”

AHA! #2
Rapid Prototyping. The goal was to come up with a design in 24 hours. The firm was able to accomplish this by looking into their past designs and seeing which one they can perhaps modify. They actually used a design for a pavilion that they did for an architectural festival earlier this year. This was crucial because time is of the essence, and designing from scratch would have taken more time. They modified this design using inputs from doctors and WHO guidelines. Once they modified the design with speed and scalability in mind, they immediately made it available to the public as they started also crowdfunding to put up around 50 of these EQFs. Speed was really the top priority of Architect Ti, saying, “We cannot turn into idle minds that succumb to analysis paralysis and watch is the virus slowly eats away at our communities.”

AHA! #3
Build on the field, not in the lab. How are they doing this? Through continuous feedback loops and iterations. They have made the drawings open source not just for the public to be able to access it easily, but also for fellow architects, medical practitioners and the like to give their feedback and recommendations on how to improve the design. In fact, as of this writing, they have already done around 3-4 iterations on the design, adding necessary entrances and partitions to ensure the safety of healthcare workers and patients. They have also included cost structure so that interested builders know how much building one facility costs.