Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What is crisis management?

As communicators we toss around the phrase "crisis management" quite a lot. For example:

- Every company needs a crisis management plan
- Consultants tout themselves as 'experts' in crisis management
- Every backseat driving marketing professional will put in their two cents on what x company should have done better during its 'crisis' because they 'know' how it's done.

But is this the right term we should be using when a non-life threatening widget doesn't perform as it should? Personally, I've been questioning that a lot today. Crisis is a strong word for strong situations.

Most of us (me included) have not ever had to deal with a real crisis at our jobs and, thankfully, we never will. The folks at International Coal Group, unfortunately, are dealing with one right now. The situation at the mine in West Virginia where 12 men lost their lives is a true crisis, not only for a company but for many families and an entire town.

Ben Hatfield, CEO, is getting a lot of accusations and anger directed towards him because of the many losses and the way the information was delivered to the families. Maybe they didn't do everything right last night (although it seems as though someone overheard something that wasn't public knowledge and spread the 'good' words), but he was there, in the middle of the night, not sleeping, just like the rest of the town. He didn't send in a VP or a lawyer, he went himself and waited with everyone else as the courageous rescuers did their jobs. I applaud him for this effort and I am interested to see how the company responds to the families in the coming days.

To hear that the miners weren't just trapped but all except one were gone is devastating. This is a true crisis for all involved. Remember all of these folks if something 'bad' ever happens at your company and you go into 'crisis' mode. I completely understand that, at the time, the issue seems huge and consumes your whole world, right? Try to keep it all in perspective. Take a deep breath, remember that you will go home that night and all of your co-workers and customers most likely will be alive the next day. Is it really a 'crisis' or should that word be saved for something more impactful?

Me? I think taking it down a notch or two wouldn't be a bad idea. Issue management. Problem management. Save 'crisis' and 'disaster' for true tragedies.

Just my tidbit for the day. Thanks for stopping by.


Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...


That is an exceptional post. Hey, why you saving all these gems for this blog? Why not spread a little of that gold over at the Kool-Aid blog? We'd love to hear from you over there...

Fritz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Donna Tocci said...

Wow, Fritz! Thank you for sharing those amazing memories. You, obviously, can understand what I was talking about in my post. The situations you describe are true crisis. Your dad must be an amazing man!
Remind me never to drive with you, though....might be a little scary! :)
Thanks, again.

Fritz said...

Driving: Yeah, people don't like riding with me for some reason when I drive.

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Fritz; Whoa! Wow! Amazing...

Todd said...

Well put, Donna. Bravo!