Business Case Studies, Executive Interviews, Tamara J Erickson on Managing Troubled Times

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Executive Interviews: Interview with Tamara J Erickson on Managing Troubled Times
March 2009 - By Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary

Tamara J Erickson
Tamara J Erickson, President nGenera Innovation Network

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  • First, a word about nGenera Innovation Network.
    nGenera specializes in business innovation. Through our people and platform, we help the world’s leading companies turn big ideas into high impact results for their most important relationships: their customers and their talent. Business leaders and their organizations trust nGenera for the following offerings:

  1. Original, "over the horizon" research investigating how a new business model of global collaboration is emerging as the foundation for competitiveness, growth, and sustained success.
  1. Executive development, education, and advisory services providing insight, inspiring innovation, and building momentum for productive change.
  2. A collaborative software platform and unique on-demand applications that integrate with and extend existing systems for rapid execution and sustainability of solutions.
  3. The nGenera Innovation Network drives the reinvention of expertise required for the next-Generation-era.

  • You have been both a respected, McKinsey Award-winning author and a popular and engaging storyteller. Your compelling views of the future are based on extensive research on changing demographics and employee values and, most recently, on how successful organizations work. How do you describe the current economic times arising out of the US financial crisis. Is it correct to say that the crisis is a derivative of derivatives (financial)?
    The current crisis cannot be attributed to any one event or set of activities. The derivatives market played an important role. However, many forces came together to contribute to the current situation, including government policy and consumer behavior. Nor is it accurate to point solely to the US. As recent actions have shown, financial institutions in Europe and other parts of the world participated in the practices that contributed to the nowglobal crisis.

  • What lessons should countries, companies and individuals draw from this unprecedented crisis? Is it correct to say that this is a Great Depression II?
    The conditions today are different from those at the time of the Great Depression, and the response of governments and other bodies thus far have been based on lessons learned fromthose times. As a result, it is not a direct repeat of the difficulties of that time. It’s a serious situation – but probably one that deserves its own name as a distinct occurrence.

    Most of the lessons learned center on the need to take an activist approach, including occasionally trying some unorthodox actions which are necessarily in part untested and rely on trial and error, such as brokering a shotgunmarriage for Bear Stearns and rescuing insurance giant AIG in exchange for an ownership stake. Overall the lessons emphasize the need to flood the financial system with liquidity by lowering interest rates, opening the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities to a variety of institutions, and buying up certain kinds of commercial loans. Because the crisis is of a global nature, leaders are working together to coordinate rescue efforts such as cutting rates and supporting banks around the world.

  • You, along with Ken Dychtwald and Robert Morison argued that unprecedented shifts in the age distribution and diversity of the global labor pool are underway and companies ignore these shifts at great peril, in your 2006 book, Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent. Did you notice any proactive steps fromany of the companies to bridge that obvious shortage of talent, especially from Japanese companies, since the book is written?
    The fastest and most effective approach for many companies is to extend the option of continuing to work to older employees – in other words, to ‘retire’ the idea of forced retirement. Many companies have put more flexible policies in place, allowing employees a range of options for continuing to work – often on a reduced-time basis.

1. Troubled Times Case Study
2. ICMR Case Collection
3. Case Study Volumes

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