News, Updates, and Happenings at Our Firm 

Planning and instinct.  These two things go a long way toward managing a crisis.  And as anyone who knows me has heard me say countless times, the faster an organization gets on top of a crisis, the more likely it is to recover.  Two national news stories this past spring really brought the point home.

When it comes to planning, Southwest Airlines had it covered.  After an engine ruptured in mid-air in April, killing a passenger on board, the airline immediately deployed its emergency response plan.  Staff were scrambled to different locations to manage the varied aspects of the situation, the CEO immediately called key transportation agencies and got in the air to visit with the passengers and crew, and compassion ruled the day.  The Wall Street Journal ran a great story about the airline's response.

A strong plan must be complemented by good instinct. That is where Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer comes in.  He made it his business to be  on the ground immediately after a horrific mass shooting at one of its restaurants in Tennessee.  In addition to meeting with the news media, he publicly thanked -- hugged, actually -- the man who saved lives by wrestling the weapon from the shooter, and attended the funerals of victims.

The public wants leadership from corporate America, particularly at a time of tragedy, and in each instance, a CEO stepped up -- one guided by a plan and the other by instinct -- and in so doing each restored public confidence in their brand.

These ever-so-slightly slower days of summer are a great time to think through your organization's readiness for a crisis.  I had the pleasure of speaking recently at the annual meeting of the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists in Washington, D.C. and told those assembled that every business and nonprofit should have a crisis plan in place.  Whether it is done in-house or with outside help, and regardless of length or complexity, it is fundamental.

For most organizations, crisis will strike sooner or later.  That is a reality of our world.  It is how an organization responds that can set it apart from others.


David Ball

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Client Spotlight: Food is the Foundation

For most of us, the food on our dinner table is taken for granted - its presence and abundance, and also its sourcing, preparation and cooking. For those too sick and too frail to shop for food and cook for themselves and their families, however, a healthy meal becomes a nearly insurmountable task.

Community Servings, of Jamaica Plain, is frequently called upon to meet this need. The nonprofit delivers made-from-scratch meals to more than 2,000 homebound and critically ill people in 20 cities and towns across Massachusetts. The 650,000-plus meals it makes every year are medically tailored -- customized to meet the nutritional and medical needs of clients fighting illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes and kidney disease. The average age of meal recipients is 59, and 92 percent live in poverty.

A few years ago, Community Servings set out to "prove" that food is medicine, engaging health plans and medical researchers to show that there can be a return on an investment in a medically tailored meal program if it improves health outcomes while reducing medical costs. A pilot study published in April in the national journal  Health Affairs found a correlation between patients who received Community Servings' meals and a 16 percent decrease in health care costs.

The research garnered dozens of headlines, including this one in the health news site STAT: "Custom meals could help curb hospital stays for people with chronic disease." The Associated Press also covered the topic in a piece picked up nationwide, including by  The Los Angeles Times.  Now Community Servings is embarking on an expansion of its facilities to meet a growing need.  The expanded campus in Jamaica Plain will produce triple the number of meals produced and provide greater opportunities for job training and volunteerism.

Westfield State University President Ramon Torrecilha had an opinion piece on the need for sustained public funding for teacher training -- essential for meeting the nation's STEM goals -- in Morning Consult.  You can read the piece here .  President Torrecilha also wrote this opinion piece , which ran on MassLive, about the role of public higher education in social justice.

Guardian Community Trust , a nonprofit created to improve the lives of seniors and individuals with disabilities, partnered with aging service organizations across the state, including Old Colony Elder Services in Brockton, to convene an educational program for local caregivers about resources and tools for enabling care in the community, including guardianship and alternatives to guardianship. The Enterprise newspaper called attention to the scarcity of guardians in Massachusetts, quoting Guardian Community Trust's research director.

Boston MedFlight, a nonprofit critical care transport service, often sees people on their very worst day.  In June Boston MedFlight patients and staff were reunited for a day of healing and celebration at their annual patient reunion.  Patients were able to meet their caregivers and tour the vehicles that were instrumental in saving their lives.  Click here  to see a touching CBSBoston news story about the event.

Health care continues to undergo tremendous innovation and change, both on the national level where the Affordable Care Act is facing upheaval, to the state level, where policymakers seek ways to lower costs while achieving universal coverage. Audrey Shelto, president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, t he private, nonprofit grant-making and public policy organization in Boston, penned a piece explaining the significance of the state's rollout of Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs.

On Friday, October 19 at 8:30 a.m., the Ball Consulting Group team will deliver a presentation for business leaders at a Newton Needham Regional Chamber event entitled "When Your Brand is Tested by Crisis." Details to be posted soon on the Chamber's website.