Serious issues often are onion like, layered. Each layer represents associated sub issues. There are rarely crises in which there is only one point of causation. There is almost never “the principle of the thing”. There are many principles competing for prioritization and sequencing. The genius of crisis management involves setting of those priorities and addressing each “principle” in the manner which best propels us in a constructive direction.
Elements of time, formation and deterioration of relationships, fluctuations in financial risks flowing from the interaction of the passage of time, the quality of relationships and other than best mode decisions, all impact the selection of what to do, how to do it and when to do it, as well as who should do it.
What is clear from this diagnosis is that more often than not, different disciplines are required to be brought to the table. In each of these disciplines, finding the resource best suited to the circumstances that must be addressed is mission critical.
Illustrative of this would be our relationship with the Islamic world and the attack mode circumstances in which we find ourselves. This is very analogous to company crisis management. We need military generalship, governance modification expertise and technical resources, all working under a hopefully intelligent leadership. Our worst days in the Islamic confrontation scenario have been associated with narrow view leadership. As the neocon aggressive tendencies have been shown to be other than helpful, we have started to find and to more seriously rely upon resources that have a more tempered expertise. We finally realize that we cannot establish mutual equilibrium out of the muzzle of a gun with little or no other supporting expertise than our interest in uninterrupted sources of petroleum. Guns and money won’t solve problems we have with others whose motivation is more complexly layered.
We have consumed far too much in resources because we have taken so long to begin to recognize that accept that our “way” is not going to be the “way” that things will be organized and that things will be managed. A company in crisis usually has to come to accommodations with hostile interests just as nations must. The inability to realize accommodations that will effectuate and promote a successful future prolongs and exacerbates crisis conditions, consumes what is scarce at enormous rates and fails to remediate when remediation is most desperately needed.
If your crisis manager is seen as a cheerleader for your positions, he is less likely to be seen as an honest broker by those whose accords are needed for accommodations to work. Even your own natural allies will be expecting you to be ready to “adjust” to reach an effective result. For example, your lender is not necessarily your natural ally in a crisis. Dissident shareholders represent another constituency that you need to reconcile in most crisis instances. Moderate honest recognition of the concerns of others whose interests may not be in harmony with yours may be required.
The insight to recognize what is needed and what may be possible rarely comes from those who are heavily invested in what brought the crisis to erupt. Outside resources are indispensible for the achievement of crisis resolution in real terms. Lawyers don’t have all the answers, and most lawyers don’t understand crisis management. They don’t teach that in school. You get to that specialty only through experience, and, sadly, you can’t trade on the misfortunes of past clients to get future clients. The privacy interests of past clients outweigh any need to “give references”. So too is it with financial experts. Unless the past client was publicly held, nothing of anyone’s difficulty can be put on your resume. Even with publicly held clients, confidentiality prevents real transparency. You just can’t talk about what difficulty you addressed with such and such company in the past. I am regularly amazed that prospective new clients are frustrated if I don’t divulge the identity and specifics of past clients. I know they won’t want me talking about their difficulties to folks down the road. As a crisis client, you have to adjust to that protocol.
Your expert crisis resource should not be expected to see everything as you see it. Even when you are “right”, the configuration of being “right” will probably be otherwise than as you envision it. Pills must be swallowed, and sometimes throats must be cut. The trick is to get to control of the situation before the throat cutting comes into play.