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July 2020

At On Plane, we say that People.Matter.Most.

Many of us feel this is the nice thing to say, however there are sound financial reasons that support our slogan above.

Lets break these apart.

First, if you are working to maximize the value of the company for your personal interests or your shareholders, you have 2 types assets – tangible and intangible.

As defined by Investopedia:

Tangible assets have a finite monetary value and usually a physical form.

Intangible assets include non-physical assets that usually have a theoretical value generated by a firm’s own valuation. These assets include things like copyrights, trademarks, patents, licenses, and brand value.

You can see more on these here =>

Obviously, to grow the value of your company you will work to grow these  types of assets.  However Intangible assets carry significantly more opportunity to increase the valuation of companies, and this has increase dramatically over the last 40 years.  As of 2015, intangible assets made up over 80% of the valuations of the S&P 500 as shown below:

Tangible Vs Intangible Assets Over Time

If most of a company’s assets will be intangible, company leaders benefit from a keen focus on protecting and growing these types assets.  If intangible assets are made up of copyrights (created by people), patents (created by people’s research), licenses (procured and maintained by people), unique internal capabilities (driven by people), and brand value (built, maintained and protected by people), it becomes clear why People.Matter.Most and that there is a business case for investment in your people beyond what is necessary to meet a minimum standard of regulatory compliance.

Given that your people will build and protect at least 80% of your company’s overall value, are you investing enough in them today?  How you do you make those investments strategically and with data?  If you not sure, reach out, the On Plane team can help.

June 2020

Finding your fit early in your career-Guest Contributor Izak Cirillo  

As a young adult taking my first steps into a career path it’s difficult to know where you fit into an organization or how you can be as effective as possible within it. I’ve felt this with most of the steps along my career path so far. Unless I’ve had a devoted manager taking the time to get to know how I work, finding my place in an organization is hard work in itself.

Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to it while I was in the organizations. I mostly focused on getting my work done and trying to do it well, but looking back, I missed a crucial step in making the most of my work experience. I didn’t find how I fit within the organization at a personal level.

I didn’t realize how important this was until I had some in depth conversation with some mentors of mine. I was directed to a web app called Cloverleaf where I took several different personality tests to get a deeper sense of how I interact with the people around me. It aggregated all the tests into a dashboard that gave me an overview of my results, insight behind the results, and useful coaching tips. You can take the assessment and get your reports (for free!) here =>

We’ve all taken personality tests before, but where this app shines is how it compares your results with those of other people within your organization. It gives you insight into how people around you tend to work.

With this awareness, it’s easier to know how to be more effective when working with people in the organization. It allowed me to be more open and aware of the things I do that can be counterproductive. It also showed me that there are things I can do to make myself a better contributor to the team.

All in all, it’s extremely important for new employees to find their place within their team. Learning about yourself and the other people on your team will make you a more effective employee and organization as a whole. Cloverleaf is a great way to start bridging the gap between what people think about you, and who you really are.

As we approach July 4th, what do your company holidays say about your diversity and inclusion program?

I was working to schedule a meeting in early December with a hard to pin down executive team. I had a date the CEO would be available and was working to assure the rest of the team could make time. The last person I talked with said: “I can’t. That is a special day we set aside for my family. We travel to be together and have for years”. It was a religious holiday, but not the normal Christian holidays we have set aside. I did not even realize this, and I believe that in most circumstances, an employee in this situation would have said nothing, skipped the family time and attended the meeting.

We moved the meeting date and all was fine.

But what if that person had said nothing? What if the company leadership had said: “that is not a company holiday, make it work”? How often do you think these things happen in the workplace today? How do you think this makes employees feel?

If you want engaged employees, they must feel included, that their specific concerns (maybe even their lives) matter.

As we take July 4th off this week, consider your other holidays and how this time can be used to recognize and include your whole workforce’s unique needs.

One easy thing a company can do is add a floating holiday or two that employees can take when they see fit. This allows the company to recognize holidays that are important to every employee, not just certain groups. It also gives employees permission to take the days off that are important to them. Practices like these set the stage for more formal inclusion programs, which need to go hand-in-hand with diversity initiatives. – Martin

Resources and decision making during COVID 19

Russ Ferreri (UBS Wealth Management) talks with special guest James Jack, Head of the UBS Business Owner Client Segment and co-host Martin Low ( about recent legislation due to COVID 19.  They cover resources James’ team has created for Business Owners like the UBS Business Owner Resilience Center  and talk about how to make decisions, even when the government has not given clear guidance. Listen on Spotify or download the audio here =>

May 2020

What We’ve Lost and Found During Social Distancing

The COVID-19 crisis has ground everything globally to a near halt. Suddenly, in the span of weeks, how most people work and live has changed dramatically. There have been huge challenges to physical, mental, and emotional safety accompanying this shift. Businesses have scrambled to adjust their workforces and employees have been faced with a very different look to the workday. But it hasn’t all been bad.

In this episode of Employee ConnectednessUnitonomy founder Charley Miller discusses what things, personal and professional, have been lost and also found during the COVID-19 crisis with OnPlane consultant Martin Low and UofL researcher Dr. Brad Shuck.

In this discussion, they will examine changes in the work-life balance in the midst of sheltering in place and working from home. What positive things have been found as a result, and what work routines that needed to get lost have been discarded in this shift to a new way of doing things? Whenever the pandemic winds down, what positive changes should we take with us into the future?

Episode 13:

March 2020

The business case for R&D

Russ Ferreri (UBS Wealth Management) and co-host Martin Low ( explore the trend of entrenched businesses leveraging their experience, sales, banking and vendor relationships, and existing customers to pilot research and development initiatives aimed at either “playing bigger” in their existing market or identifying opportunities to compete in new ones.  Listen on Spotify or download the audio here =>


Contingency planning for COVID 19 

I am sure many of you are working to understand the impacts of Covid 19/Corona Virus on your community, employees and businesses. While I don’t believe COVID 19 will have significant health effects on most people, I do believe you will soon be asked to make significant changes in your businesses and personal lives to slow its spread. If you have not developed a plan to understand your business risks and exposures to your people, you need to do so immediately. Even if you don’t expect you will be impacted by COVID 19, it is good business practice to be prepared and mitigate risks.

Time is of the essence. For those of us in Kentucky we have seen conditions change since Monday. I believe we will see significant impacts on the stakeholders mentioned above very quickly. As an one example of many, the NCAA just announced they will only allow “essential staff and limited family attendance” during the Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments.

With the hope it is useful to you and your teams, I would like to share the following information on COVID 19 and some critical questions I would ask your teams as you start to plan to reduce operational risk to your business.

For a deeper understanding of the issue, this post is one of the best things I have read on the topic so far => High points from this paper that seem meaningful to me and related to your business are: High points from this paper that seem meaningful to me and related to your business are:

a. The data set we are all looking at is not complete nor accurate.  I agree with this article linked below that it will largely be driven by testing which has not happened widely in the US =>  I think we will see a significant (and potentially scary to some) spike in diagnosis when/if testing ramps up

b. What I think is known suggests that most people if infected, will not be significantly impacted by the Covid 19 virus.

i. Most estimates suggest 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild and feel roughly like a flu.
ii. Feb 28 estimates from China suggest that roughly 10-15% of cases will be more significant and may necessitate hospital visits(see also ) with 1-3% potentially needing an ICU.

c. However, those who have underlying conditions are at significant risk, specifically the elderly and those in assisted living environments.

d. In pandemics, the healthcare system capacity is an issue and this will force government entities to act.  If those who are significantly impacted by the Corona virus end up needing care all at once, they can overwhelm the hospital system and not receive appropriate care, causing a spike in fatalities due to the lack of care – this is an issue if 10% of the cases need treatment and if the infection rate goes up quickly.  I would not be surprised to see governments catch on to this and that we will see significant closures (beyond travel and conferences) soon to mitigate the risk/transmission rate.  We are already seeing universities close (and I think this is one reason why). This chart from the NY Times => is a graphical representation:

“Fortune favors the prepared mind” – Louis Pasteur
Your team needs to have a plan for business continuity, even if you are not impacted by this crisis.  Here are some starting questions to get you started on the people side:
How their team would be impacted if no one could actually come to your facility under a few scenarios

a. What would your department do if specific areas are under quarantine either where workers live, or where your business is. 

i. Specifically:

  1. Who can/cannot work from home,
  2. What they would do if working from home – goals need to be clearly defined
  3. Do they have the necessary tools and connectivity to work from home (computer, system access, internet) and have you tested it
  4. What critical department work would not happen if people are working from home

ii. How few people do you need to run a department safely if they need to be onsite. What work may go undone if you have a number of people out. What is the impact to the business if that work goes undone?

iii. If you have to shutdown production, how long does that take, what must be done, and are multiple people able to complete this task?

iv. What steps need to be taken to shutdown the facility in general – outside of production?

v. If there is an area under quarantine where an employee lives, what would the impacted folks work on, or would you put them on leave (and what the impact would be by department)?

vi. Do you have a sufficient plan of communication for employee notification of a building closure?

You should have plans in place for other closures that impact the ability of folks to come in to work, school closures in your area would be one example.  Again, you need to be clear on:

i. Who might be impacted (who has kids and not access to care). Do you have any first responders or National Guard folks? Please keep in mind, having child care issues should not be turned into a performance issue and first responders may be protected by law to complete their duties before supporting your business.

ii. Who can work from home (or work at all)

iii. What will the employee do if they did work from home.

iv. Also what are the impacts on the business, if any, if these folks can’t complete their work.

2 Have you clarified your chain of command for critical employees:

i. Who would approve the cancelation of an event or production stoppage? What if that approver is not available?

ii. Who owns each function if the functional leader is unreachable?

3 What do you plan to do with employee compensation for those who miss work due to company shutdowns or COVID 19 related absences?

4 Do you know how your suppliers will be impacted, and if any of them can not ship to you, what is the impact on your operation?

5 Are you ready to train your managers and employees on the steps laid out above?

i. How will department connectivity be maintained if everyone is working from home

ii. What are the “core hours” people should be available if working from home – what is the process if an employee needs a flexible schedule

iii. Is there an expectation for managers to conduct 1:1 meetings with team members on a regular basis to check in

iv. What are your key metrics and how will the leadership team be kept up-to-date

v. How will you explain how employee pay is handled during this time

Best practices we have seen so far:

  • Being ready with a business continuity plan – even if you think this is overblown, its just good business hygiene.
  • Directing employees to follow prevention controls from the CDC linked here =>
  • Telling employees to stay home if they feel ill and not return to work until they are symptom free for more than 24 hours.
  • Increasing the frequency of facility cleaning and providing additional hand sanitizer.
  • Asking employees to stay home for 2 weeks if they have been knowingly exposed to someone who has COVID 19
  • Canceling all business related international travel and asking any employees who have traveled internationally for personal reasons to self-quarantine for 2 weeks upon return.
  • Asking employees to raise a concern to a senior company leader if they don’t feel comfortable traveling or attending company events including meetings due to COVID 19.
  • Asking employees to conduct as many meetings as possible virtually – via Teams/Zoom/Bluejeans etc. and limiting the total number of employees in any in person meetings to 10 or less
  • Asking employees to cancel all meetings with vendors that are not essential
  • Asking employees to cancel all travel that is not essential, and asking them to raise questions/concerns to a member of the company’s senior management.

Best of luck and please reach out if we can help.

Martin and the On Plane Team

January 2020

People. Matter. Most.

UBS Financial Advisor Russ Ferreri (UBS Wealth Management) talks with co-host Martin Low ( about his work aligning what organizations actually need with the right people for the job. Martin addresses how data, automation, and the demand for both purpose and engagement are actually increasing employee-dependency. Building from there, they analyze how those companies with a deliberate Culture/Value/Fit framework within their HR process actually receive a higher tangible value in the marketplace.  Listen on Spotify or download the audio here =>


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