Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BP and Crisis Management

The calls for a boycott of BP miss a basic rule of crisis management; one that some seem to miss: Once a crisis has hit, the most important thing is to control, isolate, and resolve the crisis and mitigate its effects.

It isn't to assign blame. It isn't to research the root causes. It isn't to plan new programs. It is to control, isolate, and resolve the crisis and mitigate its effects. If one group of experts and technicians isn't doing that then you bring in a group that can. You want to end the crisis, of course, but until that occurs, your job is to keep it from getting worse and to reduce the level of harm.

I've written earlier about the importance of squishing organization charts when faced with a mega-crisis. The top decision maker should have a direct line to the primary action officer on the ground so resources can be applied, authority granted, and unfiltered information given and received.

This technique will be damaged by efforts to acribe blame, if only because those efforts encourage a detachment rather than an engagement with the action. Decision makers may be tempted to distance themselves from responsibility lest some of the blame fall in their direction. The effective decision maker, however, actively strives to discourage rhetoric and actions that may turn needed allies into adversaries.

In short, the rescue squad members must avoid internal squabbling while the patient is still in need of their help. All focus must be on the job at hand.

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