© 2008 Jonathan Bernstein
Estimated Readership: 17,000+
JUST A THOUGHT
Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades all realms of our being.
CRISIS MANAGER UNIVERSITY
Editor's Note: I am most pleased to bring you, for the first time in this ezine, the insights of renowned crisis management practitioner and philosopher Ian Mitroff. I love this topic and plan to comment on it further at my blog. I encourage you to do the same!
Two Challenges: Crisis Management And Spirituality
By Ian I. Mitroff
I want to talk about two challenges facing all organizations today, public and private, for-profit and not-for-profit, government and business. They are: Crisis Management and Spirituality. While seemingly unrelated, they are in fact merely opposite sides of the same complex coin.
Briefly, the major challenge of Crisis Management is how to overcome apathy, smugness, and denial. The major challenge of Spirituality is to overcome the false perception that spirituality is a subject that is totally off-limits and doesn't apply to most organizations.
For about 25 years, my colleagues and I have been studying the Crisis Management behavior of major organizations of all kinds. I wish I could say that during this time we have made significant progress, but I can't. True, many organizations have made substantial improvements in their Business Continuity plans, procedures, and preparations. But, the trouble is that Business Continuity is not the same as a full-fledged program of Crisis Management. Business Continuity is great for backing up workplaces, plants, computers, machinery, operations, etc., but it is not the same as preparing for workplace violence, disgruntled employees, and ethical breaches by middle and top management.
Business Continuity also does not take into account that no single crisis that we have ever studied is a single isolated crisis. Every crisis is simultaneously an ethical, a PR, a legal, a communications, operations, etc. crisis. To put it slightly differently, every crisis has significant ethical, PR, legal, etc. elements. Unless one plans and thinks systemically and "connects the dots," then one is not prepared for any major crisis.
Give the severity and the frequency of major crises, what keeps us from preparing better? The short answer is denial! Far too many organizations have the attitude that it can't and won't happen to them. It will!
Research shows that those organizations that are better prepared not only experience significantly fewer crises, but they are actually significantly more profitable. The moral: Crisis Management is not only the right thing to do, but it is actually good for business.
How about Spirituality? How does it fare? Sadly, not much better.
First of all, Spirituality in the Workplace is not about religion. It is not about forcing everyone to have or to adopt the same belief system. It is about recognizing that when people come to work, they do not leave their "spiritual sides" at home. While the "whole person walks in the door everyday," more often than not people are forced to fragment themselves into a thousand disconnected pieces.
Above all, people are constantly searching for meaning and purpose in their lives. And, they want to find it where they spend the majority of their waking hours, at work. They want to work for a good organization, one that is ethical and treats them and everyone else with respect.
Research also shows that those organizations that have learned how to address the spiritual needs of their employees and all stakeholders are more profitable and productive. But just as important, they are happier places in which to work.
How are these two challenges related?
Every crisis is a spiritual crisis. Every crisis raises deep questions about the goodness of the organization and the people in it. It challenges our deeply held assumptions about the purpose of the organization and our places within it. For instance, it is the crisis our fault in any way? Did we bring it upon ourselves? Would it have happened if we had tried harder and had better programs?
There is little doubt that these are challenging times. Some would say they are the most challenging in our nation's history. There is no doubt that we face crises that are unparalleled. Nonetheless, I believe firmly that if we can use these times to develop organizations that serve the "greater needs" of all those connected with them, then we will not only survive but become even better. If we do not, we will continue to stagger from crisis to crisis.
Ian Mitroff is a University Professor at Alliant International University in SF; a Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, and an Adjunct Professor at the School of Public Health at St Louis. He is also the President of Comprehensive Crisis Management in Oakland, CA.
Editor's Note: I was impressed when I came across Rice University's online newsletter, in which the author used the then-recent occurrence of Hurricane Gustav to showcase the institution's crisis communications capabilities.
Update In Case Of Emergency
By B.J. Almond
If Hurricane Gustav had pummeled Houston with wind and rain, Rice probably would have closed to protect the safety of students, faculty and staff. A notice about closing would have been sent to everyone who has posted their emergency contact information in their Esther account. If you haven't provided that information, you might not have gotten word.
Rice's Crisis Management Team uses that information to communicate voice mail and text messages to cell phones and to send e-mail in the event of an emergency. Announcements are also posted at www.rice.edu.
If you have not typed in your emergency contact details or need to update them, log in to your personal account at http://esther.rice.edu and click on the link to the Rice University Emergency Notification System at the top of the main menu. Esther, or Employee and Student Tools, Help and Electronic Resources, is the university's online information tool for students, faculty and staff. If you don't know your Esther PIN, use the "Forgot PIN" feature or send an e-mail to email@example.com (if you are an employee) or to firstname.lastname@example.org (if you are a student). All personal contact information will be kept confidential.
Faculty and staff with questions about how to fill out the emergency notification form can contact Human Resources at 713-348-2514. Students can contact the Office of the Registrar at 713-348-4999 (choose option zero). If you do not want to be contacted during an emergency, check the "opt out" box at the bottom of the form -- but this may prevent you from getting timely notices, including campus closings, intended to protect your safety.
Because text messaging is fast and efficient, the Crisis Management Team encourages everyone to enable the text-messaging function on their cell phone for emergency purposes. Text messages won't provide details, but they will provide alerts and direct recipients to www.rice.edu or a phone number where more information is available. Depending on your phone plan, you might be charged a small fee when Rice sends a short text message.
The Crisis Management Team also recommends programming 713-348-8888 in your cell phone so that you will recognize calls and text messages from this number as emergency communication that warrants your immediate attention. This system is not used for routine communications, so calls from this number will be infrequent.
Members of the Rice community should not call the Rice University Police Department for information during emergencies. The RUPD phone lines need to be available to callers who need assistance during an emergency.
Regular updates about any emergency will be posted at www.rice.edu.
B.J. Almond is a staff member at "Rice News." Reprinted with permission of Rice University's "Rice News."
CRISIS MANAGER BUSINESS ANNOUNCEMENTS
Disaster Prep 101
Bernstein Crisis Management is pleased to present one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly family preparedness texts available today. "Disaster Prep 101." by Paul Purcell, goes above and beyond the simplistic "72-hour kit" concept and provides simple, yet detailed educational material that will drastically improve the ability of any family to respond to all manner of disasters or emergencies. This preparedness package contains over 400 pages of well-organized, original preparedness material written in an easy-to-understand, non-panic format; 80 pages of family data forms and worksheets (many of which are also useful to the employer); and a 2-CD set containing two interactive and searchable links collections for additional educational sources; all the family data forms and worksheets in softcopy format; and a complete emergency reference library of over 450 additional books and training manuals! US$59.95. Available here.
Keeping the Wolves at Bay 3.0 Reviewed
"Keeping the Wolves at Bay" is much more than another media training guide - it is perhaps one of the most concise, insightful, useful and savvy guides to strategic thinking about reputation issues available.
Founder & CEO of PIER System and host of Crisisblogger.com
"It's like a Swiss Army knife -- lots of cool tools in a compact package. In case of emergency, grab this."
Steven R. Van Hook, PhD
Publisher, About Public Relations
In addition to individual and business usage, the manual is now being required as a textbook at Seton Hall University, Grand Canyon University, and Singapore Management University, amongst others. It is available in both PDF and hard copy formats at www.thecrisismanager.com, with reseller arrangements available for collegiate bookstores.
Jonathan Bernstein also offers on-site media training worldwide, using this manual as the basis for training. Write to email@example.com.
Internet Counter-Intelligence CD-ROM
In a one-hour teleseminar recorded in December 2007, search engine optimization expert Diana Huff interviewed Jonathan Bernstein, a pathfinder and innovator in the field of Internet-centered crisis management, who described how a wide range of companies have been damaged by the Internet's virtual terrorists, and how some companies have been responding effectively.
In this one-hour session, you'll learn how to conduct your own Internet vulnerability audit; develop strategies for identifying your foes -- activists, disgruntled employees, or unhappy customers -- and tracking Internet chatter; build the case within your organization for ensuring someone is monitoring the blogosphere, news, and Internet forums every day; plan for an Internet crisis and, when one hits, assess the situation to determine an appropriate response; develop the action steps you can take to neutralize attacks, including starting your own blog and developing collateral such as brochures, video, podcasts, and Web links to other reputable and informative sites; and effectively use search engine optimization tactics -- not just because you want customers to find your products -- but so you can beat these guys at their own game!
Available at www.thecrisismanager.com, as are our other titles.
PLAIN ENGLISH DISCLOSURE
Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. has formal or informal co-promotional and mutually beneficial business associations with a number of the services we mention periodically in this newsletter. No, we can't go into details because that's confidential, proprietary, etc. But our relationship is NOT "arm's distance" and you should know that, since we regularly write about these services as we use them for crisis and issues management or other purposes. That said, you should also know that Bernstein Crisis Management sought the relationships because its staff is convinced that these services are the best of their kind for Bernstein Crisis Management's needs and those of its clients. If you have any questions about these relationships, please contact Jonathan Bernstein, (626) 825-3838.
ABOUT THE EDITOR & PUBLISHER
Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., www.bernsteincrisismanagement.com, a national crisis management public relations agency providing 24/7 access to crisis response professionals. The agency engages in the full spectrum of crisis management services: crisis prevention, response, planning & training. He has been in the public relations field since 1982, following five-year stints in both military intelligence and investigative reporting. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GUEST AUTHORS are very welcome to submit material for "Crisis Manager." There is no fee paid, but most guest authors have reported receiving business inquiries as a result of appearing in this publication. Case histories, experience-based lessons, commentary on current news events and editorial opinion are all eligible for consideration. Submission is not a guarantee of acceptance.
When I find a site that I think will be useful to my readers or site visitors, I put it on our Links page. If you have a site that would be of specific use to crisis managers and want to discuss a link exchange or other cooperative effort, please write to me, email@example.com.
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Because of the possibility of human and mechanical error as well as other factors, neither Jonathan Bernstein nor Bernstein Crisis Management is responsible for any errors or omissions. All information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Bernstein Crisis Management and Jonathan Bernstein make no representations and disclaim all express, implied, and statutory warranties of any kind to the user and/or any third party including, without limitation, warranties as to accuracy, timeliness, completeness, merchantability, or fitness for any particular purpose.
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A service of this newsletter is to provide news summaries and/or snippets to readers. In such instances articles and/or snippets will be reprinted as they are received from the originating party or as they are displayed on the originating website or in the original article. As we do not write the news, we merely point readers to it, under no circumstance shall Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein be liable to the user and/or any third party for any lost profits or lost opportunity, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, or punitive damages whatsoever due to the distribution of said news articles or snippets that lead readers to a full article on a news service's website, even if Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Authors of the original news story and their publications shall be exclusively held liable. Any corrections to news stories are not mandatory and shall be printed at the discretion of the list moderator after evaluation on a case-by-case basis.
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