Thursday, October 13, 2011

Prevent Crises Or Live With Them For A Long Time

Planning and training to manage a business crisis IS important, but working to PREVENT crises is even more important and certainly more cost effective.

An example:  The Toyota “unintended acceleration” crisis. It was a smoldering crisis, with  unmistakable signs of a problem developing for Toyota, but ignored or unrecognized for months, if not more than a year.
There had been repeated indications of a problem with stuck accelerators and floor mats for more than a year before the first head-line grabbing deaths of a California police officer and his family.

There have been estimates that as many as 100 people died in Toyotas with accelerator problems.
So why am I bringing that up again nearly two years after the public became aware of the problem?

BECAUSE, this story is coming back to the top of the business pages of news outlets around the world, with the scheduling of the first wrongful death lawsuit trial in February of 2013.  This trial is about the deaths of a Utah couple, killed when their Toyota slammed into a wall almost two years ago.
There are hundreds of other similar lawsuits waiting to go to trial.  And, with the first one still more than a year away, Toyota will have to wait a lot longer before they can really put this crisis behind them.

Remember, our research repeatedly concludes that nearly two-thirds of all business crises are what we call smoldering crises.  They start out small, and if someone is paying attention, they can be spotted and fixed before they ever grow to public crisis status.
That was certainly possible in the Toyota accelerator case, just like it was with the Firestone ATX tire debacle in the 90’s, before it became a public nightmare for Firestone/Bridgestone in February of 2000.

Plan, train and prevent!

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