Sensei Partner Story: Kearney

Jonathan discusses COVID-19 response and recovery at Kearney

We connected with Jonathan Anscombe, Partner at global management consulting firm Kearney, to discuss how they’re doing their part to help others during the current COVID-19 crisis, how businesses can recover, and what he’s expecting will be changed once we go back to work.

Conductor for COVID-19

Kearney is a partner in Conductor for COVID-19, contributing resources and thought-leadership to help companies respond and recover faster.

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Links from this Story

  • At 1:55, Jonathan mentions the free business advice that Kearney of offering to help companies weather the business and economic impacts of crisis. You can submit a request for their advice at the bottom of the Kearney COVID page.
  • At around 08:20, Jonathan mentions a blog he wrote recently. That blog is called “The new normal for business technologies”. You can read the full article here.

Transcript

00:00 [Jay] Hi, I’m Jay Goldman, Co-Founder and CEO of Sensei Labs. I’m joined here today by Jonathan Anscombe our very good partner from Kearney. Hi Jonathan.
00:08 Hi so my name is Jonathan Anscombe I’m a Partner with Kearney based in London, I lead Next. I’ve been working with Jay and his team for nearly three years now.
00:20 [Jay] Wow, time flies.

Alright so Jonathan we wanted to chat a little bit today about the impact of COVID-19 on Kearney and on your business but actually first from a personal perspective how’s it been working from home?

00:32 Well I’m pretty lucky because I’ve got a sort of house in the countryside so it’s a good place to be locked down. I work at home quite a lot anyway because we have so many installations all around the world from Middle East to Asia to the US across Europe. So I’m actually finding, to be honest, I’m finding it easier to get hold of people in that they are actually at home then they’re more available, so it’s been fine for me.
00:56 [Jay] Sort of similar for us I mean as you know we work all over the world together and so it doesn’t really make not much difference whether we’re at home or not but I do miss being able to grab a coffee with the team in person and sort of chat through things.

So Kearney’s been doing a lot of amazing work to support your customers through this, I know there’s been a lot of really great content published on the Kearney website and we’re pulling that content into Conductor for COVID-19, but maybe you could tell us a little bit about some of the key initiatives you’re working on in response to COVID-90.

01:25 Well as you were saying we created a lot of sort of material which we’re providing to our clients for free to help them think through how it impacts their particular industry.

The other area we’ve been doing a lot of work on of course is supply chain, it’s a real strength for Kearney, and the supply chains all over the world are getting deeply disrupted.

We are participating in some big global initiatives as well which haven’t really been publicized yet but hopefully will become available in due course. And we also are offering free advice to people – if you go onto our COVID website, you can ask a question and we’ll just answer it for free anyway. I’m not sure we’ve done that before but you know, really the way we’re seeing this is you know we have a lot of clients they’ve got a lot of challenges, we just want to help and if we have spare capacity we’re just going to go in and help them.

02:14 [Jay] Which is amazing really and I think everything we can all do to help the economy recover faster is a huge benefit to the world so thank you on behalf of the rest of the world – thank you Kearney for all of the work that you’re doing there!

One of the programs you are involved in of course is partnering with us on the Conductor for COVID-19 platform and so I’m interested in what led you to get involved in that maybe for more of a sort of philosophical standpoint, why is it important to be helping businesses out right now?

02:40 So there are certain things about Conductor that really help people at this moment in time: the speed of implementation, the ability to simplify everything down and make it really easy to implement, very easy to interact with the platform is really helpful and we’ve got a number of conversations with both the clients who are using Conductor today and who may use it in the future so you know we’re really happy to do whatever we can to contribute to other people having access to the same capabilities.

I mean our whole approach as a firm has been just to sort of get in and try and help wherever we can. And just reflecting back it’s quite interesting that there was like no internal debate about doing that because it just seems such an obvious thing to do. Many of our clients are doing the same. I mean so many of our clients are reconfiguring their factories, reconfiguring their supply chains without really any expectation of profit. I just think when you find yourself in a situation like this, you need to sort of do what you think is right and then worry about profits afterwards.

03:44 [Jay] Yeah absolutely. And so, on that note many teams around the world are sort of settling into new different rhythms they’re figuring out work from home they’re starting to, I think, get out of the immediate response to the crisis and starting to get back to business as usual and maybe even starting to plan ahead for recovery. What do you see as the key points that needs to happen or that need to get considered so that we can start to transition really into full time recovery?
04:13 Well it’s pretty interesting because we’re quite global you know, you see different things happening all over the world so I sit on you know calls with all of Europe and you’re starting to see that some of the market who went in earlier have managed it better, places like Germany, clients are now starting to think about what the world looks like afterwards so it typically go through a phase of you know pretty chaotic at the start as they try, they’ve got things hitting them from every possible direction and they’re just trying to get a get a grip and then they’ve got all the people stuff they’re worried about and then once they’ve got it stabilized they’re starting to now start thinking about the future so I think it’s really about confidence and when clients feel that they are – completely feel that they have grip on the current situation and obviously that varies enormously by client. I mean some health care clients are just struggling with the volume while others have seen their entire you know business evaporate.

I just think it’s gonna be very slow, very choppy with you know stuff coming back again and it’s gonna vary hugely by country, by market so it’s gonna be a slow and complicated and kind of messy messy coming out of recovery I think and we just need to you know talk with the clients about where they are and how we can help.

05:39 [Jay] So as they start to go back into the office and return to may be more familiar way of working there’s gonna be some long term effects from this that changed the way we work and so we’re really interested in maybe from your perspective two things: one is what you hope companies learn and adopt from this experience and then something that you think will be forever changed after this.
06:04 The thing I’m most – so you know my background was in health care ,for years and years and what has happened in the last three months is extraordinary. With crunching down of lead times you know, when we’re talking about bringing a medical device to market in four weeks – that is ridiculous! That’s a five year process. Similarly with new drugs, and I just really really hope that people have realized that if you get the right people in a room to get focused around a single objective and you have people like regulators in the room as well you can do amazing things. And I am just you know – increasing medical innovation by a factor of 10. Yeah, I just really really hope that people don’t go back to the old ways and we really learn the power of collaboration through this the power of open collaboration around single goals so that’s kind of my one hope.
07:11 [Jay] In terms of things that’ll be forever changed, I know you’ve spent a lot of your career flying around the world on airplanes – in-person meetings – do you see that world going back to that after or do you think this is really the push that we needed to massively adopt digital technology?
07:28 I think we all think it’s changed and it’s really interesting for projects where we are obviously well, we know, we have a history and a whole way we work is typically with the client, on-site, you know very sort of intimate relationship and they were almost wondering how this is going to work? And the interesting thing is it works fine! Some interesting things happen, I mean when you see you see in the back of, unless think of virtual backgrounds, you see where people live and that interestingly does change the nature in the interaction because you’re starting to see where people live, they’re all dressed in t-shirts and shirts rather than suits so there’s an almost sort of a level of intimacy in some ways which is rather -bizarrely – is more than you would have in the old world.

So I think remote working, the way I described it, I wrote a blog recently, is been legitimized. It was always possible but it was somehow never quite right, you know. You were supposed to travel. It was basically difficult to demonstrate that you should be there and I think that’s changed.

So what I really hope has changed is traveling six hours for 20 minute meeting, which I’ve done too many times and I really really hope that’s gone and people just say: hey guys can we Zoom more teams instead?”

08:42 [Jay] Yeah absolutely! I have also in my career traveled many times for short meetings where the travel time was way longer than the meeting itself and as you said sometimes it was just showing that commitment that you were willing to do that, was the sort of sacrifice, but I think now people are seeing maybe those sacrifices aren’t as meaningful as we thought they were.

And as you said there is actually a different type of intimacy that comes out of these relationships when you are getting to know somebody a little bit more in their home and with their kids running around in the background and those sorts of things.

I think the interesting thing as well is what changes in our own sort of personal calculation of what’s important in life. I know that some of the things I thought I would miss, I don’t miss at all. And some of the things that I unexpectedly never thought I would miss, like maybe sitting in traffic, actually feels like something that was a bit of a sign of normal life. So what are you missing?

What’s the one thing that you’re really really looking forward to doing when quarantine is over?

09:39 Well I’m a Brit so, going down to the pub.
09:44 [Jay] I had a feeling you were gonna say that. Well I hope one day we get to sit in a pub together again somewhere in the world.
09:50 As we have many times before.
09:52 [Jay] As we have many times before. Thanks for joining us today, Jonathan! Much appreciated. Stay safe!
09:56 Thank you very much indeed.

Conductor

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