I will never forget last year’s May Day protests. My wife Barb and I were in New York City and sat in Bryant Park watching protesters peacefully march with signs around the Big Apple. The New York City Police were out in force, looked serious about their jobs, and everyone stayed cool, calm, and collected. We never felt like we were in danger, nor felt fearful. Imagine our surprise when we returned to our hotel and saw our very own Seattle on the news. May Day riots were out of control in the downtown area with protesters smashing windows and setting cars on fires. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Here I was safe and sound in one of the biggest cities in the world, and my relatively small hometown was being ravaged.
This year, things are different. The police have already started preparations and are sure not to be caught flat-footed again. In addition, businesses are being much smarter. I just saw a push notification on my phone indicating that US Bank in downtown Seattle was closing up shop at 3 pm due to the expected protests. They made a decision in the best interest of their customers and employees. While they might not be able to prevent damage to their building, they do have control over the people they serve and employ. While it might be a slight disruption for customers, my guess is that it pales in comparison to anyone being injured.
The lesson for you as a business owner is this…
You need to learn from history. I can’t tell you how many times in my years as an insurance agent and consultant, where I have seen business owners ignore history and trends to their detriment. For example, if you have a fleet of cars that continually racks up rear-end accidents, and you take no preventative action to educate and/or discipline your drivers, you will fall victim to larger self insurance costs, higher premiums, and loss of production and revenue. In this case today, US bank knows it’s located right in the heart of the rally. They know that banks are a target. They saw what happened last year. They made a decision to avoid calamity in the places they can control. Kudos to them.
You need to be skilled at spotting trends. If you have a strong, professional relationship with your insurance agent, they should help you. This is an area that consultants are invaluable. The net result of learning from history is that you don’t repeat the bad stuff; only the good stuff! At least one business in downtown Seattle has figured it out. Have you in your business?
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
I just got done speaking to a tremendous group of women business owners and executives in New Jersey. They just went through a devastating storm last October that was unprecedented in its impact to communications, transportation, and power loss. We spoke about that storm, as well as other crises that can impact their businesses like – loss of power, data breach, and employee issues.
Here is what I heard loud and clear from them…
- They want to improve their ability to communicate to employees and customers in a crisis. That means setting up layers of redundancy in case of loss of power, email, cell phones, or whatever other methods are being used.
- They want a plan that is in place to deal with any crisis that comes around the bend. It must be something that is repeatable, intentional, and practiced.
- Speaking of practice, most business owners and executives rarely set out practice plans (i.e. fire drills or corporate war game scenarios). How do you know it works if you never practice?
My recommendation is to set up a 3-step process for disaster planning…
Step 1 – Set a budget to include insurance premiums, outside consulting help, technology, and internal controls. This will be different for everyone due to insurance premiums, number of employees, and perils.
Step 2 – Go through disaster and crisis prevention response and planning. Allocate at least 8 hours out of an entire year to do this and re-commit annually.
Step 3 – Buy the insurance, monitor your plan, then relax and do what you do best in your business.
You can drive yourself crazy and easily drift into analysis paralysis if you allow yourself to. Make the process simple and move forward. The problem for most businesses is that they never spend the fraction of the time they need to prepare. Doing this little process by itself may save you tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Cyber crime is a huge peril that often gets overlooked by business owners and executives. This episode will focus on steps you can take to prevent a crisis dealing with the volatile world of technology.
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Just yesterday, a shooter in a Portland, OR shopping mall opened fire with a gun and randomly killed two people and injured another. This type of shooting spree has become all too familiar in this country and around the world. The devastation, carnage, and terror are unimaginable.
As a case study for business, it brings up the need to know how to respond for your employees and your customers. This is a crisis that gets overlooked often when strategizing about insurance or risk management. Why? Because it is virtually unthinkable for most people. You would never think it would happen to you. I’m certain that this shopping mall and the businesses in it never expected it to happen. This is a small suburb of Portland…not even in the city. How do they deal with it?
Here are lessons to take away for you as a business owner. These lessons are more global than just a crazed shooter. These can apply to anything that is immediately dangerous be it a chemical spill, a workplace violence incident, a fire, or any other type of crisis…
1. Know what to do in real-time to keep your customers and employees safe. This should be known in advance, be communicated to all employees, and be practiced. You can’t expect people to know what to do if you’ve never told them or had them practice. This first “lesson” is the most important and the most missed.
2. Have an escape route. Know ways to escape and where to meet up.
3. Use technology to your advantage. Text messages, email, and instant messaging may save someone’s life or keep them away from danger.
4. Make sure all your employees are trained in CPR/First Aid. You read that correctly…ALL. Have an automatic defibrillator on site just in case.
5. Have a plan to make sure everyone is accounted for after the crisis is over.
6. Have a plan to inform families of how their loved ones are. This isn’t easy. Hopefully, the calls are that everyone is safe. Sometimes they are not. Who is making that call?
7. Have someone available to deal with the media. They should be well spoken, empathetic, and practiced in the art of dealing with difficult messages. This is another area most small businesses fall woefully short. The damage from a bad interview or being misquoted can have devastating effects on your reputation.
8. Train your employees on what not to say in the event of a crisis. There should only be one voice and that is the person I listed above. This makes it easier to avoid misinformation. Be careful with social media. Warn your employees not to get involved with the nose and chatter because it could come back to haunt you.
Bottom line – Nobody wants a crisis like what happened at the Clackamas Mall last night. As I said before, it’s virtually unthinkable. Yet here we are, whether in Portland or Aurora, CO. These incidents are horrible and they devastate lives and families. You as a business owner have a duty and obligation to take care of your “family.” Make sure you do the pre-work that is needed to minimize the damage if it does happen. It will be time well invested.
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
This past weekend, two NFL teams have had to deal with this. In Kansas City, one of the Chiefs players committed suicide by shooting himself at the facility in front of the general manager and coach, and just days before the next scheduled game. In Cleveland, a member of the Browns ground crew committed suicide at the team’s facility. The death of an employee, especially when they take their own life on site, can have a hugely detrimental impact on the rest of the organization. What if that happened in your organization? Are you prepared to deal with it? How do you know?
This past year, one of my clients lost an employee on site due to a heart attack. To add to it, the spouse worked there and was on site at the time. Last year, a Rotarian friend of mine who owned an auto repair shop had a heart attack and died. His employees tried in vain to give him CPR.
Too many of you think of crisis in the forms of fire, theft, and natural disasters. A workplace death, especially during working hours, can be as big a crisis as you can face. Knowing what to do in advance helps you, your employees, and your organization.
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
September is National Prepardeness Month and to “celebrate” that, I am offering a very special teleconference on September 18th from 12:00 to 1:00 Pacific (3:00-4:00 EST). My guest
will be nationally renowned branding strategist, Dorie Clark.
We all know that being prepared for crisis is critical to surviving one. Whether it’s a natural disaster, an economic crisis, or a travesty like what happened at Penn State University, you must be ready to make tough and smart decisions.
Is part of your process on how to protect your brand and reputation?
Reputation risk may be just as damaging as the crisis that started it. Just ask BP! You must have a plan in place to communicate effectively to employees, investors, clients, prospective customers, the media, and your community. Failure to do this will lead to distrust, loss of reputation, and lost revenue. Having a plan in place, on the other hand, will set you in a postion to not only protect your good name, but take advantage of the opportunity to thrive.
In this teleconference, Dorie will share with your strategies, tactics, tips, and suggestions on how to prepare your business or organization to respond to a crisis both internally and externally. You will walk away with new ideas on how to:
- When and how to effectively work with the media
- How to inspire and lead your employees when chaos is all around you
- How to communicate with your supply chain and key stakeholders
- How to protect your brand
My guest, Dorie Clark is the President of Clark Strategic Communications in Boston. Dorie is recognized as a “branding expert” by the Associated Press, She honed her crisis communication skills as a spokesperson for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and as the press secretary for former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s gubernatorial race. Today, she is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the American Management Association’s publications. She is also a columnist for Mint, India’s second-largest business newspaper. She consults on marketing and branding strategy for clients like Google, Yale University, and the Ford Foundation, and is the author of the forthcoming Harvard Business Review Publishing book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (2013).
Dorie has taught marketing and communications at Emerson College, Tufts University, Suffolk University, and Smith College Executive Education. She has also lectured at universities worldwide, including Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. She is quoted frequently in the international media, including the New York Times, NPR, the BBC, and more. At age 18, Dorie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College, and two years later received a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.
Today’s announcement of the penalties handed down by National Football League commissioner, Roger Goodell have dramatic consequences for the New Orleans Saints football
team and coaches. For those not familiar with the situation, The Saints were accused, and found guilty of, targeting opposing players (particularly quarterbacks) to injure them and get them removed from the game. The defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, developed a system (which he used when coaching with other teams) where his players would earn up to $1,500 for hard hits and getting other players injured. Basically, “Bounty-gate” as it’s being termed, was more about bad intentions than hard hits. When it comes to players safety, the NFL has taken a hard-line and made historic decisions.
The defensive coordinator Williams, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. It’s a minimum of a year with the chance to re-apply then. He has a new team and this impacts them substantially. The head coach, Sean Payton, who knew what was going on and failed to stop it, was suspended for a year without pay. That’s a cool $8,000,000 (that’s right – six zeros) never to be regained. He can’t appeal. He is an employee of the NFL without a union. One of the other assistants, Joe Vitt, was suspended for 6 games. The club has been fine $500,000, lost draft picks, and lost its reputation. This is unprecedented in the NFL, and maybe all of sports. It is punitive and a clear message to the rest of the teams that this behavior will end.
The reasons for the draconian nature of the penalties? The Saints were warned in 2009 by the NFL to stop bounties. The Saints said okay, but they didn’t stop. Basically, when you lie to an investigative unit, that leads to issues. In addition, the NFL smelled huge lawsuits coming at them and probably felt that they needed to make a big statement in order to show that they are doing all they can to end bounties. They did.
So what does this mean to business leaders? Read on…
1. Head Coach Sean Payton is stunned (Read article by Jay Glazer on NBC Sports). He has just lost $8M he can never get back. He is out of the league for a year. No contact. No decisions on players. Nothing. He didn’t instigate this bounty system. He allowed his defensive coordinator to do it and basically gave him full control. The similarities to Joe Paterno at Penn State are compelling. Payton (basically the CEO) ceded control to a maverick subordinate and stuck his head in the sand. He allowed bad behavior to persist in his organization even after being warned. For that, he ended up getting the deepest blow. He makes way more money than Williams. His reputation was bigger. He has lost big time. Question – As a leader, do you cede control to subordinates who are highly successful and stop minding the store? Are you willing to “overlook” things because the person who is running it is very successful in other areas? Example – your top sales producer shows poor judgement frequently with clients and potentially can damage your reputation. You don’t do anything because they are your top producer. You risk your reputation and potentially increase your liability.
2. Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis was also suspended for a year. This is your club’s top executive. Payton may have been the CEO, but this guy is all about your talent acquisition. Again, this is a case of not taking bold and courageous actions when you’re smart enough to know you should. It’s easy to say sitting here on the outside, but really tough sometimes when you are in the midst of the fire. Question – Do you take bold and courageous action when your gut tells you what you know is right?
3. Looking at the big picture. The NFL is all about winning today. Now, not necessarily later. Teams will fire coaches, executives, and players at a drop of a hat to win today. Heck, today Tim Tebow (last year’s golden boy and media sensation) was traded by the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets because Denver picked up Peyton Manning. Nobody is safe. The pressure to think only in the moment and eschew long-range consequences may be very prevalent in this environment. Question – Do economic challenges and issues keep you focused only on the now, rather than strategizing and preparing for long-term sustainability?
4. Reputation Damage Control – I’ve heard very little from the Saints today. Maybe they are still trying to get up off the floor. They have damage control to do. It starts with their fans and continues on with the NFL, public perception, and the media. This may haunt them for years as they go to different cities and receive the cat calls, the heckling, the poor press, etc. How does this affect their employees and families? It will have devastating ramifications for a whole lot of people. Question – Do you consider reputation damage when thinking about crisis management? Do you ever think about crisis management?
I have to think that thee will be more penalties levied against players. Lawsuits may pop up. It’s truly a tragic situation. Bad judgement and poor behavior is not relegated to the NFL. It happens daily in business. Although they are purely for entertainment value, television shows like Mad Men and The Office, and cartoons like Dilbert often skim that surface of reality and we recognize it. That’s why we watch, read, and laugh at them. But nobody is laughing in New Orleans or in the NFL offices today. I know it’s a baseball axiom, but there is no joy in Mudville today. Make sure that you learn from others mistakes and avoid a similar fate in your business.
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
This is a blog post preparing for my presentation on August 25th in Bogotá, Colombia a at the Occupational Health & Safety Management Summit. These posts will be precursors for my presentation and I welcome any and all comments. I will attempt to translate in Spanish below the original post through the magic of Google Translator!
One of my consulting colleagues was putting on a webinar for her mentorees and invited me to attend. We are both Master Mentors in the Alan Weiss global consulting community and she thought I might be able to add some value. I logged on at the appropriate time (about 5 minutes early) and found several of her mentorees on the webinar. The one missing person…was her.
As I sat and made conversation with the group, I quickly texted her to see what was going on. Turns out she WAS on the call; could hear all of us; but nobody could hear her. A presenters nightmare! She tried several times to get back on to no avail. It was during our texting that I realized that if we could text, we could talk! I had her phone in on my land line and put her on speakerphone so all could hear her. She was able to go on with an excellent presentation that was well received by her audience.
Resiliency is defined the ability to “bounce back.”
Now it wasn’t just pure brilliance to use the phone. I have had my own communication conundrums of epic proportion before. One time for a teleconference where nearly 30 people were registered for, I sent out the WRONG identification code. I was sitting on the phone with a minute to go flabbergasted that I was the only one on the call. That is, until I started receiving a flurry of telephone calls, e-mails, and texts from frantic audience members! I was able to go back in and send mass e-mails with the correct identification code and we started 15 minutes late.
The bottom line is this – you need to scrape your knees a few times in order to learn resiliency. It’s one thing to talk a good game, but without having experienced the pain a few times, you can’t really know how to respond.
I work with business owners on how to be resilient. It works because they’ve skinned their knees a few times, and so have I. We all had experiences and “war stories” to share and learn from. In order to be a resilient leader and a resilient organization, you must take time to discuss the habits and best practices of organizations who both fail and succeed in the face of adversity. You must be able to identify vulnerabilities; prepare for the worst; and (here’s the important part so pay attention) PRACTICE your response. Why do you think you always have to re-do CPR and First Aid training? It’s because muscle and mind memory needs practice!
Learn from your mistakes and those things that happened which were out of your control (more often than not the case). By practicing resilience, you will find yourself better prepared to thrive.
© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Uno de los colegas de mi consultorio estaba poniendo en un seminario para su mentorees y me invitó a asistir. Los dos somos mentores maestro en la comunidad global de consultoría de Alan Weiss, y ella pensó que yo podría ser capaz de añadir valor. Me he registrado en el momento adecuado (unos 5 minutos antes) y se encontró a varios de sus mentorees en el seminario. La única persona que falta … era ella.
Cuando me senté e hizo una conversación con el grupo, que rápidamente le envió un mensaje para ver qué estaba pasando. Resulta que ella estaba en la convocatoria, podía oír a todos nosotros, pero nadie podía escucharla. A los presentadores pesadilla! Intentó varias veces para volver a en vano. Fue durante los mensajes de texto que me di cuenta de que si el texto podría, podríamos hablar! Tenía su teléfono en línea en mi tierra y la puso en el altavoz para que todos pudieran oírla. Ella fue capaz de seguir adelante con una excelente presentación que fue bien recibido por su público.
Resiliencia se define la capacidad de “recuperarse”.
Ahora bien, no era sólo pura brillantez de usar el teléfono. He tenido mis enigmas de comunicación propios de proporciones épicas antes. Una vez para una teleconferencia donde cerca de 30 personas se registraron para, me envió el código de identificación errónea. Yo estaba sentado al teléfono con un minuto por jugarse asombrado que yo era el único en la llamada. Es decir, hasta que comenzó a recibir un aluvión de llamadas telefónicas, correos electrónicos y textos de los miembros del público frenético! Tuve la oportunidad de regresar y enviar correos electrónicos masivos con el código de identificación correcta y que comenzó 15 minutos tarde.
El fondo es éste – que necesita para raspar las rodillas un par de veces para aprender la resistencia. Una cosa es hablar de un buen juego, pero sin haber experimentado el dolor de un par de veces, realmente no se puede saber cómo responder.
Yo trabajo con los empresarios sobre la forma de ser resistente. Funciona porque han pelado las rodillas un par de veces, y yo también hemos tenido todas las experiencias y las “historias de guerra” para compartir y aprender. Para ser un líder resistente y una organización flexible, usted debe tomar tiempo para hablar de los hábitos y las mejores prácticas de organizaciones que no tanto y tener éxito en la adversidad. Usted debe ser capaz de identificar las vulnerabilidades, prepararse para lo peor, y (aquí viene la parte importante así que presta atención) la práctica su respuesta. ¿Por qué crees que siempre hay que volver a hacer entrenamiento en RCP y Primeros Auxilios? Es porque la memoria muscular y la mente necesita práctica!
Aprenda de sus errores y esas cosas que pasan, que estaban fuera de su control (más a menudo que no es el caso). Mediante la práctica de la resistencia, usted se encontrará mejor preparado para prosperar.
© 2011 Dan Weedin. Todos los derechos reservados
In my teleconference this afternoon, I “unveiled” my own personal definition of crisis resiliency…
“A leadership response to threat, crisis, and opportunity that will inspire an organization; it’s employees; the supply chain; and its customers.”
What do you think? Agree, disagree, or questions?
The key words are bolded – response, opportunity, and inspire….
© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Rory McIlroy self-imploded on the back side of Augusta with the lead at the Masters. He lost a 4-shot lead and at 21 years old could have easily gone in the tank. For a young man from Northern Ireland, this was a crisis in confidence.
Today, McIlroy came all the way back with a huge bounce and destroyed the field in the United States Open. He broke records and lapped the field.
Responding to crisis is what this young man did. After the Masters, he was humble and got back to working on his game, including calling past champions like Jack Nicklaus to get advice. His next opportunity was not wasted.
Responding to crisis often means simply bouncing back from adversity with grace and skill.
Just like Rory McIlroy…
© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved