Volkswagen: a long road to recovery

By Dominic Cockram

220px-Volkswagen_logo_2012.svgIt has certainly been a busy few days for the VW crisis management team. If they had a mature and practiced crisis preparedness capability in place then hopefully they will have been hard at work for some time now. Suggestions are that others did have some foresight that all was not well in the industry from the roadside test reports, so there may have been some early work going on.

But, in facing this potentially overwhelming corporate crisis, how should VW set about managing the crisis, identifying their priorities and ensuring their reputation recovery? Continue reading

Crisis Management Planning 101: Learning from Asiana’s Mistakes

By Isobel Nicholas

South Korea’s Asiana Airlines was roundly criticised in the aftermath of its response to the crash of Flight 214 on Sunday 6th July 2013 at San Francisco airport, inflicting severe damage to its reputation.  The criticism largely stems from its silence in the hours after the crash and the lack of information made available to support victims of the crash and their families as they struggled to find out what had happened and whether their loved ones were involved.

Here we review what happened and look at what lessons in crisis management planning and crisis communications can be learned. Continue reading

Crisis Lesson #1 – Enabling Strategic Thinking

By Dominic Cockram

Over the years, Steelhenge has witnessed board-level crisis responses from a large number of organisations in greatly varying sectors and geographic locations. There are certain key issues which come up again and again, and we hope to give an insight into some of these over the coming weeks.

The first key area that top-level teams consistently struggle to manage is the strategic element of a crisis response.  The temptation is to dive into the detail, get operational and derive comfort from dealing in the familiar.  There will be ‘fires at your feet’ and they will need fighting, but it is the executive team’s role to watch the horizon; the ‘gold’ team should be looking ahead whilst those around them plan (‘silver’) and deliver (‘bronze’) on their decisions and direction.

This is where conceptual thinking models work well; simple approaches designed to capture the core elements of strategic thinking with which a gold-level crisis team should be engaging.  Few senior executives know their organisation’s crisis plans well, and many have never even read them. The one tool they need is a very simple, well-structured key activity process to keep them on track.

A good set of crisis procedures is a great start – it provides those critical checklists needed to help staff working under immense pressure. These help focus discussions, give guidance and a sense of structure and provide familiarity in a situation when so much is often unknown.

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Has social media changed strategic-level crisis response? Part Two

By Dominic Cockram 

Part 2 – Yes

After reading Sarah’s response to this question earlier this week, I have to disagree with her conclusions. I think that social media has changed many aspects of a strategic-level response.  However, there are many layers of complexity to this and it is never as straightforward as it seems.

Firstly, it depends on your brand and business.  If you are in retail and fashion then there is a huge shift in the way the strategic team now responds when driven by a social media storm.  Firstly they feel they now need to get decisions out there quickly and show action taking place, they are now listening to what they hear (or they should be) from their detractors and their supporters and using that information to drive and inform their decisions in many cases.  For them, crisis response has undergone a significant change as a direct consequence of social media.

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Has social media changed strategic-level crisis response? Part One

By Sarah Nicholas

Part 1 – No

Social media may have changed the nature of crises, and the speed required for a successful crisis response – but has the advent of Twitter and co. really changed the key tenets of crisis management and core roles and requirements of a top-level, strategic crisis response ‘gold’ team.

I don’t think it has. Controversial, perhaps, but let me explain:

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