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Does Your Company Need a Booster Shot?  

by Ed Ingle (April 21, 2021)    


#BusinessInnovation #BizDev #CSR #ESG

booster shot arm image.jpg

Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, said in a recent interview that people will “likely require” a COVID-19 “booster shot” within six to 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. After the year we’ve all had, and the race against the clock to get people fully vaccinated with not one, but two shots, you could literally hear an audible gasp across the country upon learning that a third shot may now be needed later this year.


Pfizer, Moderna, and other medical experts in the last few days went on to say that a booster shot may be needed to provide people “maximum protection against infection” as the virus and variants evolve. After that, it appears we may then require an annual COVID-19 vaccine, similar to the annual influenza vaccine.


As the U.S. just crossed the 50 percent threshold for adults receiving at least one dose of vaccine, this news of a third shot admittedly did not land particularly well. For me, it felt as if we were now moving the goal posts just when we thought we were finally in striking distance of the goal line. However, the more I’ve considered it over the last few days, I’ve come around to seeing this not as moving the goal posts, but more akin to responding to a playing field that itself continues to move.


The same could be said for the environment in which today’s corporate business leaders find themselves. Without question, the playing field on which companies are doing business has moved dramatically over the past year. It’s been rocked by a hundred-year pandemic, racial injustice, social unrest, and a volatile, hyper-political election and post-election period.


Amidst all this chaos, the public at large is increasingly turning to corporations and their executives to speak out and take stands on issues – issues like election reform, which historically have not been part of any business school curricula.


Meanwhile, corporate management teams are struggling on whether and how to bring employees back to the office. Granted, some companies have thrived during this pandemic. At least their bottom lines and stock prices have thrived. However, I’m not convinced this will be the case over the mid and long terms as corporate cultures potentially drift off course as the work-from-home experiment and new-ways-of-working play out.  


This is why I think companies may very well need their own “booster shot” in the coming months to better position them for success in the next phase of their business. What do I mean by this? I mean a shot of fresh and candid thinking given that every company's go-to playbook has quickly become obsolete. 


Consider these questions below, and if you’re a company that answers ‘no’ to one or more of these questions, then you may indeed need a booster shot:


  • Have you effectively upgraded your business models to account for life after COVID in terms of how consumers and business customers will view your products or services?


  • Have you changed the way you engage governments and decision-makers at the local, state, federal, and international levels compared to how you did prior to 2020?


  • Have you reached out and built alliances and partnerships with new and non-traditional partners, which can help lead to greater business and social impact?


  • Have you clarified your company’s long-term plan on “working from home” vs. “working from a central office” or something in between?


  • Does your corporate decision-making process reflect a diverse set of stakeholders or does it primarily reflect the feelings of the C-suite and like-minded employees seeking to please the boss?


  • Have you deepened your engagement within the local communities where your company operates and serves?


Corporate America needs to remember that it is still part of a community -- many communities -- and needs to be responsive to these communities in genuine and demonstrable ways.


Many of today’s companies try to be all things to all people and be everywhere at all times with no particular connection to one place. Yet, companies are ultimately more relatable to their customers if they are seen as more human, more caring, and more accessible. 


Unlike the new everywhere, anywhere, ethereal Cloud where companies now store their data (and your data), companies themselves are still a physical entity, which have a real footprint in a community, with employees who make up these communities -- who attend PTA meetings, shop in the local grocery and hardware stores, and drive neighbors’ kids to school.


It’s these personal, local connections that will best serve companies and help them succeed and build trust in the coming months and years ahead. 


And, it will take fresh and candid thinking -- like a booster shot -- to ensure that companies are getting the maximum protection against status quo thinking and using yesterday’s game plan.

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