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Crisis management - failing to prepare is preparing to fail

07/02/2007

Pianificare la gestione della crisi è la chiave di successo delle aziende. Riportiamo un articolo di Michael Regester.

Proponiamo un articolo che ci giunge direttamente dall'Inghilterra. Lo firma Machael Regester, co-autore (insieme a Judy Larkin) del volume 'Risk Issues and Crisis Management. A casebook of best practice' (2006, Kogan Page), recentemente pubblicato dal CIPR e già recensito sul nostro sito.


Crisis management - failing to prepare is preparing to failIn most crises, because time is scarce and resource allocation critical, company executives need strategic guidelines on what action to take. Crises are often turning points in organisational life. They represent opportunities to establish a reputation for competence, to develop the organisation and to tackle important issues.
Taking action in a crisis can be filled with risk. A strategy is needed for deciding when to define a situation as a crisis, when to take action and when to work with others in solving the crisis. Crisis management is about taking control of what has happened before it engulfs the organisation. Planning to manage crises and issues is the key to corporate survival.
Those aware that any event, even a crisis, can be an opportunity to gain friends, to enlist support and possibly, to attract new customers or shareholders, are well prepared to take control. Failure to have in place tried and tested contingency plans for every kind of emergency means, when the unexpected does occur, a company will have difficulty regaining the initiative.
A second principle, perhaps of even greater importance, is that actions build a reputation far more effectively than words in advertisements or glossy brochures. In today's climate of corporate accountability, promises words alone are greeted with cynicism or disbelief. Such an approach can actually create a target for attack should the slightest lapse in performance occur.
Nothing pleases the public more than a fall from grace by the excessively righteous. Self-aggrandisement campaigns lack credibility because everyone knows the sponsor accentuates the good and hides the bad. The essence of good reputation rests not in trying to create a good story to hide poor performance, but in making management aware of the need to adjust performance so the actions speak for themselves. The guiding principles of crisis management are to:

develop a company-wide positive attitude towards crisis management
gain senior management buy-in
match organisational performance with stakeholder expectation - build credibility by acting responsibly
seek and act on the opportunities during a crisis
The essence of crisis mismanagement is not to make a bad situation worse. Many would argue, for example, that President Nixon's cover-up of the Watergate break-in created a bigger crisis than the original transgression would have produced.
Successful management of the crisis is about recognising you have one, taking the appropriate actions to remedy the situation, being seen to take them, and being heard to say the right things. Companies often misclassify a problem, focusing on technical aspects and ignoring issues of perception. Perception is the reality.
Risk identification
A coherent approach begins with the identification of potential issues and crises. These may include:

existing situations which have the potential to become crises
crises a company has experienced in the past or other companies, in the same industry which might recur
planned activity which may meet with opposition from stakeholder groups
Companies then need to classify the potential risks and assess their possible impact. It is then easier to think through the logical steps which need to be taken in the crisis management planning process.
In short, planning for issues and crisis management may be summarised as:

classifying potential crisis situations
developing policies for their prevention
formulating strategies and tactics for dealing which each potential issue or crisis
identifying who will be affected by them
devising communication channels to those affected so as to minimise damage to the organisation's reputation
testing everything
Michael Regester 

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