Crisis Management – Timing vs Attitude

On August 10, 2012

Albert Bartlett is an innovative thinker. Professor Albert is known for his work in quirky mathematics and its application to weighty questions of modern life. Population for one. He uses the analogy of a Petri dish containing organisms that are multiplying and points out that although it took a long time to half fill the dish it will only take a short time to completely use up the remaining space. The organisms will double just one time more and the job is done. The processes at play haven’t changed, but the implications of those processes have. What are the consequences?

Innovative thinking is central to vigilance in Crisis Management – considering the worst and planning and preparing for the best possible outcome, looking at the wider picture – the influences and unpredictables – and asking the right questions. Royal Dutch Shell would call it maintaining an attitude of what they term ‘Chronic Unease’ – asking constantly, in good times as well as bad, what could be about to change for the worse regardless of how stable or well things appear to be going. Is that chain towing the oil rig out to sea as strong as we think?

TIC – The Ideas Company based in Melbourne – have applied this to product recall and reverse logistics and built a bustling business on the strength of their new approach. Vast volumes of recalled stock can be processed centrally by TIC when the unexpected happens and a company finds themselves trying to manage countless items that must be taken out of circulation as quickly as possible with minimum damage to brand and reputation. It is a problem that can be dealt with due to the forward thinking and preparation of those involved.

Companies undergo an audit to assess how able they are to deal with a recall long before one is on the radar and actions are put in place to put them in the best possible position, build the processes and procedures that will make the difference. What has changed in the industry? Will a recall work like it did 10 years ago? Is that a cozy assumption? What do we need to do differently?

We are enjoying working with TIC on a Recall Audit, more of which in due course.

It is never too early to consider crisis-related matters, make an assessment and start planning a strategy. It’s a rapidly changing world, the rules can change rapidly too.