Four hours after the towers ' collapse, the board had met and formed a crisis team made up of the organization's functional heads. The team identified the internal constraints to replenishing inventories and quickly developed a plan to overcome each. The first step was to establish communication with the key players in operations, the field, and the competition.
Members of the team contacted their counterparts at Abbott Labs to explore ways in which the two companies might be able to save precious resources by coordinating their efforts and providing assistance to one another. At the same time, OCD's field organization was pressed into twenty-four- hour service, making calls to determine exactly how much inventory blood centers had at their disposal. Other members of the team began working with the FDA to streamline the process by which product is inspected and released.
Simultaneously, the manufacturing department inventoried the raw materials it had in stock and identified which additional materials, and how much of each, were needed. Non-blood-testing product lines were shut down; their finished products were shipped or stored to make room for blood-testing products; and the lines began churning out blood-testing products.
The biggest challenge facing OCD was distribution. Blood-testing products carry an expiration date and are, therefore, always shipped by air. But all commercial flights remained grounded in the days following the attack. A call was made to Johnson & Johnson's executive committee, which immediately approved the use of the company's corporate fleet to deliver the much-needed testing supplies . The plan was presented to the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), which immediately obtained clearance for the fleet to fly with "lifeguard status" throughout the country. Within twenty-four hours, Johnson & Johnson jets were shipping product to locations that had the greatest need for the testing materials. OCD employees remained on duty twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and product flowed continuously to the blood centers, until the crisis was over.
As this example demonstrates , Johnson & Johnson has empowered its employees to solve problems and make decisions without having to go back up the chain of command for approval at every step. Johnson & Johnson's long-standing decentralized management system stands in stark contrast to the hierarchical structure that until recently characterized most businesses.