Has your crisis already started?

posted by Brian Shrowder

There’s no shortage of schadenfreude these days as the world looks on at the Libor scandal engulfing Britain’s banks and the ongoing investigation into newspaper phone-hacking.

“How could they have let this happen?” is just one of the questions being asked of these companies by the British public.

No doubt we’ll all know more when the banking and Leveson inquiries hand down their findings. But there’s one aspect of these events that should give all CEOs pause for thought.

In both instances the seeds of today’s crises were sown years ago by employees’ actions which, we are told, were unknown to senior management.

Those events are now directly impacting reputation and shareholder confidence. The repercussions seem ever-widening.

Here’s my question: What if the beginning of a crisis has already occurred in your organisation and is smouldering away right now without your knowledge?

It’s a frightening prospect. And one worth planning for.

Having effective governance and early warning systems in place will help manage the risk of a ‘sleeping’ crisis. A culture of vigilance and a willingness to confront difficult issues early on can be the best preventative medicine.

As a first step, consider a clear-eyed audit of your risks and issues and a crisis plan to help you through the worst scenario.

It’s always better to uncover the bad news today before it makes tomorrow’s headlines.

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