You Can't Hurry Change: How To Not Burn Through Billions

Fred Hassan: The fastest way to turn around the company in my opinion is to find a way to get to the frontline managers.  If one can get them to be a part of the change agenda, if one can get them to start to understand the strategy in simple terms so they can repeat the strategy without a PowerPoint, if they can internalize it and become ambassadors of the strategy to their people it is amazing how much energy and power gets unleashed. 

One of the more recent situations that I went into was taking over as chief executive officer of Schering-Plough, which is a very large pharmaceutical company that was going through very bad times . The company was facing a lot of legal challenges from the authorities, a lot of regulatory issues related to their products.  The largest products had lost their patents. The company was burning cash at the rate of a billion dollars a year.  

So at Schering-Plough we were able to not only bring our manufacturing problems under control by getting the frontline managers to work hard on quality, efficiency, compliance, productivity, we also got the frontline managers in the R&D laboratories to be a lot more effective in unclogging some of the problems we were having with products in the R&D pipeline and we got the people in the sales and marketing groups around the world to get extremely energized through the frontline managers’ leadership and focus on doing their jobs a lot better.  The sales representatives’ professionalism went up, their sales knowledge went up, and their ability to make effective customer calls went up and the company’s top line sales started to go up.  Once things started to move up in the right direction the turnaround was very quick and very dramatic. So keeping the frontline managers with you is extremely important as you go about executing on a changed agenda.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

A rarity in the era of the rockstar CEO, Fred Hassan's success seems to be more attributable to his skill at putting out fires than igniting them.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.