Posts Tagged ‘action’

Crisis management – can you handle it?

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

When the ferry Estonia unexpectedly sank, the then Swedish prime minister promised it would be raised. Turned out that was impossible, but the voters never forgave him for breaking his promise.

Handle the issue in a serious manner and don’t try to make it appear to be of minor importance. It is important, so important you have journalists hounding you. If you seem arrogant they will go for your throat.

Negative media coverage hits when you least expect it and you have to be quick, open and take responsibility. It’s actually more important how you handle the crisis than what actually happened.

Not as difficult as it seems

How should a crisis be managed? There are an abundance of strategies claiming to know how to succeed with crisis management. They all have one thing in common – sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. But the multitude of theories do give the impression it’s almost impossible to manage disaster when it hits you. And the fact that huge companies like BP fail contribute to making companies feel they are not up to the task. Of course they are.

You can’t anticipate everything that could go wrong

Things go wrong when we least expect it and to make it worse it’s usually something we wouldn’t in our wildest dreams imagine. It’s not the areas where you understand something could go wrong that turns out to be problematic but something completely unexpected. So no matter how prepared you are, you will usually be caught completely off guard when something really goes wrong.

Make a tentative plan of action

So it’s important to decide who handles what and how you will proceed when a crisis happens. Otherwise it will be total chaos with people trying to avoid dealing with it by claiming it’s not their responsibility. And several people have to be prepared to act, in case someone is off sick or on vacation. You also need to make sure the person handling the press gives a serious and honest impression.

Monitor your press coverage

It’s important to be aware of what’s written about you. Not least on social media because that’s often where a problems starts. Keep a close eye on comments being made since things can easily get out of hand if you don’t handle them swiftly.

Can you handle even a huge disaster?

You have to be prepared to do so even if it never happens. If not, you are doomed when disaster strikes.

Be available

Trying to avoid the media is tantamount to suicide. Some journalists will then try to nail you and find whatever information they can to do so. If necessary by analysing the crisis at hand in a way that makes you the culprit. If you don’t know what to say, you can always end a news conference by saying that the next one will be held, say, tomorrow afternoon at 15.00 hours.

Don’t try to hide anything

Be as open as possible to avoid speculation. Use your web site to make documents related to the issue at hand available, questions & answers and statements. Just be careful about not saying anything that could later turn out to be bending the truth. It’s better to say that you don’t know but will find out and get back to them.

Don’t simplify the problem

Handle the issue in a serious manner and don’t try to make it appear to be of minor importance. It is important, so important you have journalists hounding you. If you seem arrogant they will go for your throat. Make sure you convey the message that you completely understand and sympathize with the public outcry caused by the crisis. It’s essential to show that you genuinely care and that human beings are more important to you than money. However, don’t be as emphatic as the former Swedish prime minister by promising something that can’t be done. It would have been better that he said he would like to raise it, but didn’t know if it was possible.

Apologize

When you are at fault acknowledge it, take responsibility and apologize profoundly. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to explain why things went wrong. That usually goes down wrong and give the impression you are not sincere. And that’s fatal.

Be honest

Whatever you do, don’t lie and hope it will not be detected. Investigating journalists will find out and the repercussions against the company, and you personally, could be grim. Even white lies can be fatal. Heard about one minister that got caught with a white lie and was sacked after eight days in office.

Show the media what actions you are taking to sort out the mess and make sure it never happens again. Needless to say it has to be something that makes sense and enable them to show the public that you are taking your responsibilities seriously.

Maybe the most important thing is for the crisis to be handled by a person that gives an honest and caring impression. If not, media can easily get the impression something is wrong and start investigating. If worse comes to worse they will then dig up something else that can be editorialized into a story needing even more crisis management. Or even make it necessary for the CEO to resign.

(Photo: PhotoXpress Nathalie P)

Actions speak louder than words

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

A fair idea acted upon is better than a brilliant one never acted upon. The purpose of any business is, simply put, to develop and make money. And how’s that going to happen if you don’t take action? Why do we have a corporate culture where an abundance of reports are written on how things should be done in theory and then –

If you overdo the contemplating part you will never get anywhere.

If you overdo the contemplating part you will never get anywhere.

only sometimes – acted upon?

Or worse acted upon to the detriment of not only the company but society as a whole. A contributing factor to the global banking crisis was academic people without enough experience having theories that unfortunately didn’t work out in reality.

Why complicate things?

Confusius was right when he said that life is really simple but we make it complicated. And writing theoretical reports instead of acting is a very good example of that.

Conditions are never perfect

Sometimes reports are produced to avoid doing something that companies know has to be done, but really want to avoid. The reports then show share holders that they are doing something and become an excuse for not taking action until conditions are perfect. And they never will be. Passive companies are not going to be winners but active ones are. The only thing you will achieve by postponing action is losing time and money.

What happened to common sense?

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes reports are needed to get optimal results. But for the majority of businesses in this world, does it really make sense to spend a lot of money on writing theoretical reports? What happened to common sense? Most things are actually pretty basic. How much money do you need to bring in to make profit? How will you get that kind of revenue? In most cases you don’t need to write a report to determine that. For most businesses a few meetings, discussions and agreement on a plan of action is sufficient. You swiftly notice when things aren’t working out as planned and then you just change tactics. It has actually happened that I have told companies that what they need is not a report on how to do it, but simply act to get more customers and increase sales. You can argue that I should have produced an expensive report instead of being honest, but you don’t keep clients that way. If you make them pay for what they do not need, it’s just a question of how long it takes before you loose them.

Maybe it’s easy for me since I started my career in journalism and know how to get the information I need and then act to get results. And the same applies to business, I find the information I need, adapt it to the situation at hand and then take the appropriate action.

How many reports are acted upon?

Writing reports is a Western phenomena that has unfortunately spread. Don’t know how many times I have heard about conglomerates, for instance in the Middle East, that have hired an academic to write reports. They mostly spend a lot of money on it but the reports conclusions are seldom acted upon. Wouldn’t it have been better to simply take action to improve, for instance, sales, acquiring new customers, developing products and collecting money? Doing that you would also bring in money.

Start-ups that spend months writing detailed analysis on how to best do what they are going to do frequently run out of money and have to close or, worse, go bankrupt.

Have always applied action style leadership to get results. In business I like to surround myself with action-oriented people. Naturally I do contemplate and analyse but my main focus is on action and I do believe that’s where we need to be in this world to achieve something. If you overdo the contemplating part you will never get anywhere. And how long will you be in business then? Every day thousands of good ideas are buried because people are afraid to act upon them. Got a good idea? Then act upon it!

(Photo: cpask Photo Xpress)