How Your Daily Decisions Could Spawn a Crisis

Erik Bernstein crisis management Leave a Comment

Everyday choices can create serious issues

I can’t count the number of crises I’ve seen during my career that started with an operational decision that seemed like a good idea at the time — but which was fatally flawed from the start because decision makers didn’t ask a critical question.

What type of crisis could spawn from my decision?

Which, when taken to the next level, leads to:

Does our decision have the potential to create a reputation threat, business interruption, damage to our bottom line, or some combination of those impacts?

Consider these examples:

  • You’ve been threatened with a lawsuit and are considering how to respond. Don’t just think about legal issues, think about the Court of Public Opinion, where news/gossip can dramatically damage reputation, interrupt business and harm the bottom line.
  • You’re going to raise the golf green fees for residents at your 55+ retirement community. A modest increase, the first in years. That should be easy, right?  The Court of Public Opinion is fueled with great heat and rancor by intelligent seniors who have time on their hand, something ignored at one’s peril.
  • You decide to source the lettuce for your salad bar from a California grower with no known issues because they offer a lower price than your current supplier. But, for financial reasons, you also decide not to pay for independent testing of the lettuce; rather, you accept the inspection reports submitted by the grower’s “expert.”  Guess whose reputation gets trashed when customers start displaying symptoms of E. coli?  It’s not the grower’s!

These crisis-fomenting glitches happen, at least in part, because those involved in decision making on the operational level aren’t inviting people qualified to assess public relations risk to the table early on in the process.  And part, sadly, is that not enough people in the C-suite understand, yet, that there can be a solid crisis-prevention model in place.

Jonathan Bernstein
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