13) Coaching - India/Norway, 2009 - 2011: white noise vs. deafening silence, crisis management awry

Compelling Events

    1) The missing of a deadline by a company providing services to an OEM an ocean away led to a crisis. The help I tried to provide was appropriate, but the delivery not, i.e. right message, wrong medium. My painstaking report with a step-by-step remedial action plan was never even looked at until after the situation had already been resolved. Client feedback, sort of mumbled, was that competence in strategy had not been perceived as relevant to addressing a crisis in supply chain management. The solution the two firms independently arrived at was essentially the same as the suggested one, albeit with the steps being taken in a different order. 

The causes of the delay, its impact on the customer, and the resolution make for an interesting case study in "value outsourcing," i.e. based on value adding relationships. However the client CEO understandably does not want the story appearing on a website.

    2) The company was faced with a "friendly" takeover in Feb. 2010, which had all the omens of disguised hostility. Putting "golden parachutes" into place before the takeover was completed could have provided effective rape protection. The client CEO was optimistic, wavering about whether these measures were really necessary, could be seen as "bad faith."

    To make protection actually happen, I would therefore have needed to fly to Mumbai, India. Presenting longwinded exculpations would be pointless. The bottom line is I never got on the plane, never even booked a ticket. The conversation April 2011 with the distraught former CEO, life´s work gone, cheated out of any recompense, facing permanent unemployment, was painful.

    That CEO, kind-hearted, generous, loyal, truly one of the "good guys," wound up bamboozled by someone evil and left in the lurch by friends and family. The CEO´s fatal flaw? From the perspective of the culture in which that CEO lives, the answer is blatantly obvious: wrong gender. "She is a woman, had no business founding a company anyway, serves her right."


Lessons learned

    A crisis generates a lot of white noise. In crisis management you need to ensure not only that your message is cogent, but also that it is properly delivered -- or it will not be heard!

    Looming crisis is often met with denial. Denial leads to apathy, lethargy, inaction. As a coach, you cannot galvanize people into action on the telephone and with E-Mail. You just wind up repeating yourself and wasting time.

    You need to get out of your own (comfortable) office and go to their (uncomfortable) one. If that means getting on a plane to get there, so be it. Give it your best shot personally in face-to-face meetings with actions taken on the spot. Either you are the catalyst to make things happen, or you disengage, and stop wasting your time -- and theirs.



     To conclude, the quote that begins the introduction to Losses bears repeating:


“A wise man watches his faults more closely than his virtues; fools reverse the order.”

Napoleon Hill