By James Santagata
Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
As an update, evidently Firestone Tires plantation in Liberia has made fantastic progress against the ebola virus.
Which proves how powerful leadership + aligned interests are. It certainly sounds like the US Government and other aid organizations should be talking to and learning from Firestone.
Ebola in the US?
You've had to have been living in a cave not to have heard about the unfolding ebola situation that has now reached the US, in Dallas, Texas, via index patient Duncan Hunter.
There's been potentially deadly bungle after deadly bungle starting with a visa issuance system which allows an entrant to self-administer their own questionnaire about their exposure to ebola to a horrible misdiagnosis and mishandling of the index patient at a local Dallas hospital which was later blamed away on "electronic record keeping" and a "miscommunication" between hospital staff and the attending doctors.
Beyond this, there are even more questions about the mechanics of dealing with ebola. For example, it's one thing to say that hospitals need to be on the outlook for ebola both by profiling a patient (recent travel to West Africa, in particular, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea? Any contact with a person, living or deceased with ebola or suspected of ebola?) and also by looking for indicators of ebola (temperature, unexplained bleeding, diarrhea, etc.) but it's quite another thing to say what to do when you have a confirmed case on your hands.
Specifically, there seems to be a dearth of information (from all of the reading I have done and that is quite extensive) about specifics such as:
"I don’t care how advanced any industrialized nation is, there is a threshold where we will outstretch the resources and it becomes uncontrolled.”
Through all of this, we can see that the medical system from the CDC on down appears to be completely leadership and that's about the nicest thing I can say. Oh sure, we've gotten boilerplate statements about this ebola incident being a "one-off" situation and that there's nothing to worry about as well as statements from the CDC and other's about their confidence in our medical system "containing this before it becomes an outbreak" but the actual execution of this by the so-called medical profession has been a sideshow if not a freak show.
How could this handling be improved? Well, it first entails an understanding of what's missing. And specifically the missing pieces include:
"The major flaws that we really found were about communication".
A leader is someone willing to step up and take charge and responsibility while also being able to handle the arrows fired into his or her back, because in a situation like this, it boils down to heavy politics and political correctness. Those persons in a position of power who take the path of inaction, will continue to be inactive until they finally see a benefit to be active or until the hits being inactive are greater than the risk of acting.
A person who is a true leader will step up immediately to the plate. In fact, any person looking for huge political gain (including a scoundrel), on either or any side of the aisle could gain enumerable benefit and power by doing so, though they would have to have a strong constitution and be street smart to stand up to the continuous volley of blackened arrows fired by the other political players.
The benefits, though, that would accrue to the savvy leader would more than offset the negative hits incurred.
The other point is that of communication. It is very clear that true communication as well as clear step-by-step planning on the very nuts and bolts of what should be done at a hospital or medical facility either suspecting or confirming an ebola patient has not occurred or is severely lacking.
So what can we learn from this for business? What are the takeaways?
Most persons in a position of power, including in business, cower in fear or reel from having to make real, hard calls. At the same time, those that may be willing to make hard call are often hamstrung from acting by political opponents.
However, a true leader who understands how to step in to the leadership or power vacuum and how to lead will reap untold benefits and profits while doing good.
Steve Jobs was a master of this as he demonstrated at Pixar and at Apple during his second tour of duty with the development and release of the iMac, iPod, iTunes and then the iPhone.
We need to understand that while other incumbents fought and blocked each other internally (from Nokia to Sony to name just two), Apple, with Steve Jobs' steady leadership at the helm (along with his iron fist) simply engaged in a massive land grab in numerous key market spaces.
As always, any company's greatest weakness is poor leadership and heavy politics while any company's greatest advantage is a field full of competitors who, themselves, are leaderless or otherwise engaged in heavy, destructive politics.
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