Carlos Herrero
CEO
Extrategia, Comunicación y Medios
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Expert Contributor

How Do You Prevent a Crisis?

By Carlos Herrero | Tue, 07/14/2020 - 08:30

How does a Formula 1 racer avoid an accident on a dangerous curve? How does a soccer player see the opportunity of the goal? How does a climber calculate the vicissitudes of the last section of his climb? How does a surgeon cauterize the bleeding that occurs in a patient?

In every crisis you face a moment of judgment as the concept itself invokes. Preventing a crisis means always being prepared for that moment of judgment, establishing analyses and judgments continuously. Asking the right questions about your own responsibilities prepares you for the right answers. Whoever establishes scenarios of continuous analysis and decision dynamically projects their capacity for judgment.

Preventing a crisis is smarter, more efficient, less stressful and obviously cheaper. This ability resembles the detective's ability to precede his vision with evidence and possible consequences. This preventive capacity is built in companies with experience, vision and continuous exercise; no more and no less than how everything in life is prevented. 

Experience shows that there are common elements to all crises. Errors, fractures, confusions, tend to be repetitive. For this reason, the common denominators need to be identified immediately in order to understand the situation and then pass judgment. The protagonists in the tragedy of the Andes have traveled the world giving lectures and have written books to teach us above all that in life you have to make decisions at all costs, under all risks and in the shortest possible time.

To make the correct judgment in the specific circumstances of a crisis, it is necessary to have vision; that is, to have the capacity to see beyond, to see into the future, to think about the consequences and beyond the consequences. Vision capacity implies a broad horizon of knowledge of everything that surrounds the specific crisis situation. In the measure that this horizon is had, the concepts and therefore the judgments can be reached faster.

These axes of experience and vision involve exercise. The repetition of decisions and acts implies habits that make it possible to decide appropriately and almost automatically on something. Serious companies, not only those that are considered in high-risk industries, train to always be prepared against adversity and of course also against success.

Crisis prevention and management positively or negatively reveal the leaders of a company. The ship's captain must know and master his ship, and the rudder with which he directs it, perfectly. Analyze, compare, consult, conclude, decide. Above all, it decides who should take part in overcoming a particular crisis. It's unbelievable how CEOs can appear at explanatory press conferences without knowing what to say or, worse yet, denying reality. Do these companies that have billions of dollars, not have a captain who can tell the truth and convey empathy? In the thinnest fog, north often gets lost. 

You can have manuals, have the best strategy and the best spokesperson, but accepting and acting with the truth is the only thing that actually works in a crisis. When it's hidden or minimized, it only exacerbates the crisis to be avoided. If the first question is truthfully answered, then the other questions fall under their own weight.

If life grows and matures through crises and transformations, why would this way of improving not also correspond to a company, an institution or a brand? Crises reflecting a particular moment of judgment reinforce those who experience it. Learning from them keeps us alert and proactive, which is the only way forward.

Faced with crises, it is necessary to think step by step and follow a line of analysis:

  1.  Identify: Wondering if what you have in front of you is a crisis or not.
  2. Typology: Identify what type of crisis it is: industrial, productive, legal, union, accidental, communicational, structural, etc.
  3. Committee: Establish a crisis committee: Think Tank for analysis and decision.
  4. Consequences: Identify the social, economic, legal, political, and reputational consequences.
  5. War room: Name a war room that makes decisions.
  6. Spokesperson: Assign a spokesperson to responsibly represent the company.
  7. Stakeholders: Serving all stakeholders, especially those who have been affected.
  8. Strategic documentation: Define the lines of communication and the key messages.
  9. Communication: Always and responsibly attend the media.
  10. Follow-up: Continuously analyze what is happening, what is being achieved and when the crisis is over.

The challenge of any crisis is to maintain and, if possible, strengthen, reputation.

Photo by:   Carlos Herrero