Sunday Strategist: More CEOs Should Have Seen This Coming



The factories are going to war. 

All over the world, distilleries are bubbling up hand sanitizer, rather than hooch. Auto assembly lines are cobbling together ventilators for patients and respirators for doctors and nurses. And a popsicle stick maker in Maine is churning out nose swabs, the literal tip of the spear for coronavirus testing. 

In coming years, we’ll have fascinating B-school cases and Netflix documentaries breaking down how those companies were nimble enough—both logistically and culturally—to rise to the challenge. For many, there will be happy accidents that lead to thriving side businesses. Consider the Jeep, purpose-built to raid the beaches of Normandy, or Hormel’s Spam, still a popular Christmas present in Korea where it served as wartime rations.

At least one company saw the Covid-19 crunch coming: 3M, which will churn out more than a billion N95 respirator masks by the end of the year, according to our deep dive in this week’s magazine. Since an emergency meeting in late January, the company doubled its mask production, namely because it had a lot of extra mask-making machines sitting around—so-called “surge capacity,” a term we’ll be hearing on quarterly conference calls 10 years from now.

In a snapshot of time, on any particular financial statement, the idle equipment would be ill-advised—a chunk of expensive flab in an ultra-lean manufacturing environment. But 3M, with 171 factories in 36 countries, is big enough to carry the extra weight. Its seemingly surplus mask-making machines were a bet on fat-tail events, both an investment in would-be mask sales and a hedge against all the other parts of the business that would fall apart in a pandemic (see: Post-it notes and airplane paint).

This kind of worst-case planning is standard practice at a lot of companies. Consider Home Depot during hurricane season. Covid-19, however, will certainly turn a far broader range of CEOs into corporate preppers (at least it should).

For 3M, the use case wasn’t a stretch of the imagination. Its executives only had to connect the dots on previous pandemics. More recently, a rash of natural disasters, from earthquakes and hurricanes to forest fires, strengthened the mask math.

In addition to building up surge capacity, 3M also retooled its supply chains for resiliency, putting suppliers through emergency drills and sourcing more materials in regional networks around each plant. When China blocked the export of respirator masks weeks ago—including masks from 3M’s facility in the country—the company was still able to stamp units out of its plants in Nebraska and South Dakota. 

There’s a lesson here for a lot of industries and retail sectors. Factories of the future, like restaurants, will increasingly go local and stress-test capacity. Big Toilet Paper, please tune in.

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Netflix fans think 'My Secret Terrius' series predicted coronavirus outbreak – and they're freaking out

A DRAMA series on Netflix may have predicted the coronavirus pandemic two years ahead of the outbreak, according to shocked fans of the streaming platform.

Korean show My Secret Terrius released an episode in 2018 featuring a strain of coronavirus mutated by terrorists to be used as a weapon, leaving doctors desperate to find a cure.

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There are several different types of coronavirus, including one that led to the MERS outbreak in 2015 and the most recent one, which causes the disease Covid-19.

An eagle-eyed Twitter user spotted similarities between the ongoing pandemic and the fictional virus described in the final episode of the first series of My Secret Terrius, which stars So Ji-sub, Jung In-sun, Son Ho-jun and Im Se-mi.

User @eoeoes posted a clip from the show lat week, admitting that the episode had given her "goosebumps".

In the video, a character compares the fictional virus to MERS, saying: "Someone tweaked it to increase the mortality rate to 90 per cent.

"What’s more serious," she adds, "is that the coronavirus has an incubation period of two to 14 days.

"The virus was manipulated to attack the lungs directly within just five minutes of being exposed."

She goes on to describe how there's no cure for the disease.

Later on in the episode, schoolchildren are taught how to wash their hands properly to avoid the spread of the virus.


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The tweeted clip got hundreds of Twitter users in a tiff over the show's supposed "prediction" of the Covid-19 outbreak.

My Secret Terrius originally aired on South Korean channel MBC and appeared on Netflix later down the line.

One person remarked: "This s**t had me speechless. But still a dope show".

Another added: "Just gonna leave this here but i am massively spooked. This series My Secret Terrius is on netflix but came out 2 years ago and talks about the coronavirus we’re going through rn…"

"F**king scary stuff," a third user wrote.

However, not everyone was convinced, with some assuring users that the parallels were merely a coincidence.

Scientists have known about different types of coronavirus since the mid-20th century, so it's no surprise they would have cropped up in various TV shows down the years.

One user said: "Everyone freaking out about #mysecretterrius knowing about the Corona virus … but you guys realise we didn’t discovered just now… that some Corona Viruses types cause SARS, MERS, and even some common cold strains. Chill…"

The Covid-19 virus has killed more than 19,000 people and infected 440,000 worldwide.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).

The virus attacks the respiratory system, causing pneumonia-like lung lesions.

Some of the virus types cause less serious disease, while others – like the one that caused Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) – are far more severe.

In 2003 an outbreak of a similar virus, Sars, killed more than 900 around the world within weeks.

In other news, Netflix will make its video quality in Europe worse for a month to stop binge-watchers from overloading the internet.

Your internet may be getting slower as the coronavirus outbreak causes a huge surge in web traffic.

And, Apple recently revealed how to clean your iPhone without breaking it.

What do you think of the Netfix fans' theory? Let us know in the comments!

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Netflix Sporadic Outage “Fixed,” Streamer Says As U.S & Europe Subscribers See Disruptions

In a near media nightmare scenario for millions of Americans and Europeans isolated at home due to the spreading coronavirus pandemic, Netflix went down today.

But, after spots of subscribers across parts of the NATO alliance were unable to log on to the home of Stranger Things, Love is Blind and Tiger Kings, everything is up and running again, the Reed Hastings-run company says.

“Some of our members in the U.S. and Europe were unable to use Netflix via our website for around an hour this morning,” a Netflix spokesperson told Deadline on Wednesday. “The issue is now fixed and we’re sorry for the inconvenience.”

The inconvenience, as Netflix terms it, was first detected mid-morning with a short spike in complaints:

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Netflix is having issues since 12:33 PM EDT. RT if it’s down for you as well #Netflixdown

— Downdetector (@downdetector) March 25, 2020

An almost essential service for a globe of shut-ins right now, the inconvenience was oddly scattered, literally street by street in some areas. For instance, as some parts of Los Angeles were affected, others were just fine to catch another episode of the third season of Babylon Berlin or re-watch docuseries Pandemic for the 10th time.

Netflix had just over 61 million U.S. subscribers at the end of 2019 out of a total of 167 million subs worldwide. Across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which the company reports together, the streamer had 51.7 million.

As markets crash and bounce on COVID-19 news, the stock has rallied and the service has been buoyed by the sudden stay-at-home mandates around the world that have people searching for things to watch.

Demand has been so high that the company has been cutting traffic on networks across Europe as internet providers see surging usage. It first reduced traffic on networks in Italy and Spain by 25% and said Sunday it was expanding that to the rest of Europe. It’s basically removing the highest bandwidth streams within each resolution category that could result in slightly worse video quality.

No such move has happened Stateside yet – but, as today’s glitch may indicate, that could only be a matter of time as more and more Americans hunker down and more and more jurisdictions issue stay-at-home orders.

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