Crisis Management

Business/Media Relations: What to do when Morley Safer calls    In a world where information is power, it is important for successful business people to empower themselves to meet potential media exposure head-on.  The unprepared and ill-equipped are always losers in media confrontations.  The knowledgeable and well-prepared often gain credibility and at the very least, are able to neutralize potentially negative situations. Here is a 15-point checklist developed from my experiences in media conflict management.  Following these points will provide the basis for a fair hearing in even the most difficult of situations. Always allow direct contact between you and the reporter.  Acting through an intermediary confuses the issue and diminishes your credibility. Always have a third party present at the interview, preferably one who will be objective with you afterwards.  Tape the interview if possible. Prepare yourself before the interview through consultation with your advisory colleagues.  Make sure your legal and public relations counselors have a good working relationship. Minimize the risk of being quoted out of context by speaking in short sentences and by repeating key phrases that convey your point of view. During the interview be wary of deception, but be prepared to recognize straightforwardness. Understand that the reporter must print news in a manner that attracts the reader’s attention. Don’t rely on the reporter’s note taking to include all the facts; follow up with a letter reiterating your position. Show a genuine interest in learning the details of the journalist’s work; e.g., deadlines, sources, criteria, and procedures. Never try to squelch a story by going over the reporter’s head or by attempting to bring pressure...

Five Stages and Myths of Business

STARTUP STAGE:  The owners are the business Problems:  Customers/service/cash Process:  Owners do the work Organization: Simple Planning:  Minimal/tactical Objective:  Experience/stay alive Customers: Owners know them SURVIVAL STAGE:  The owners pull the business Problems:  Income vs. outgo Process:  Owners make decisions Organization:  Managers carry out orders Planning:  Financial projections/sales/improvement Objective:  Survival Customers:  Owners see them SUCCESS STAGE:  The owners lead the business Problems:  Cashflow/profits/delegation Process:  Managers make decisions Organization:  Chain of command Planning:  Financial /marketing/strategic Objective:  Exploit accomplishments Customers:  Owners hear them TAKEOFF STAGE:  The owners plan the business Problems:  Growth/capitalization Process:  Workers make decisions Organization: Flexible/changing Planning: Long-range/comprehensive Objective: Manage growth Customers: Owners hear about them MATURITY STAGE:  The business is the business Problems: Control/flexibility Process: Multifaceted/integrated Organization: Complex Planning: Futuristic Objective: Continuity Customers: Owners read about them   FIVE COMMONLY HELD BUSINESS MYTHS – An opinion from Larry Womack Myth #1:  Most people who run businesses want phenomenal success and are willing to pay the price. He who makes the best decisions wins! A business becomes outrageously successful because its leader makes better decisions than does the competitions’ leaders.  But most leaders don’t want to invest the time, money, and energy required to make the best decisions.  They’re content to achieve sufficient gains in revenues and profits merely to feed their own personal needs and interests, keep the company going, and to pay employees the minimum required to prevent them from going elsewhere. Making better decisions  Good decisions result from acquiring and using the most relevant information available.  The best decisions are those that anticipate customer needs.  The future is the most important source of information.  If a leader...

Using Theory in Planning

In his world-changing book, Out of the Crisis (MIT,1986), Dr. W. Edwards Deming says that experience alone, without theory, teaches management nothing about what to do to advance the success of a company.  “Using experience alone,” said Dr. Deming, “is like attempting to drive a car by using only the rearview mirror.”  He postulated that the purpose of establishing a theory is to create a context from which to generate the right questions to answer and from which to measure progress.  “The theory in hand need not be elaborate,”  he said.  “It may be only a hunch, or a statement of principles.  It may turn out to be a wrong hunch.  But by establishing a theory to underpin a plan, it is both easier to know why you succeeded and to avoid replicating actions that led to failure.” Though there are myriad business theories, those presented here are the ones I regularly use for business planning. By using one or more of these theories, principles, or those already established by my client, a context can be established for research, discussion, and decision.  The sources from which I arrive at the theory are included. Lifecycle Theory:   Knowing where one is on the lifecycle continuum allows for adjustments to survive or advance. Lifecycle – Cosmic History The science fiction bestseller by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee, Rama Revealed, tells the story of a group of human spacefarers who are offered a home on a galactic way station by an advanced alien race.  The way station has a special theater that displays the universe in three-dimensional holographic detail.  By using...

How to Solve Problems

Leaders have responsibility for ensuring the future.  The present should be out of their hands, out of their reach.  Managers and workers secure the present.  Though each responsibility requires critical thinking, it is important that individuals in each category apply critical thinking where they can make the greatest impact. Another way to look at the present/future demands in a company is through the terms organization and business.  Organization is the structure in which work takes place.  Business is the outcome of work.  Organization is present.  Business is future. Examine your own daily routine.  How much time do you spend doing things that are urgent?  How much on things that are important?  Or on other tasks like correction versus prevention, worry versus concern, action versus preparation?  The present words—urgent, correction, worry, action—are legitimate activities in any work environment.  The future words, though, are what profits are made of.   DECISION MAKING PROCESS  Determine a desired outcome Collect pertinent information from a variety of informed sources. Validate the information collected. Determine that the information is useful to address the challenge. Develop a solution, idea, or answer based on a rational, non-judgmental interpretation of the information collected. This process is as applicable to routine decisions as it is to long-range business planning.  Take your time when making decisions, reason through the implications of possible courses of action, and know your sources of information and trust them.  Admit your ignorance.  It’s the highest sign of intelligence and the path to good decisions. ADDRESSING PROBLEMS A problem is the difference between things as they are and things as they are perceived to be.  Most...

How to Think

When You Close Your Eyes When you close your eyes, your mind automatically opens.  It is in the darkness of the mind where true illumination occurs.  Winston Churchill said, “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”  Why are you thinking about a fat man smoking a cigar instead of reading this?  The mind can do strange and wondrous things. Time is suspended in the mind.  The mind is a universe without borders.  It is existence without form.  The mind is the single source of all realities. Close your eyes and move a thought about in your mind.  Amazing that you can create the illusion of form, structure, and movement by concentrating on a thought and moving it around inside your mind. Move the thought to your forehead, just above the bridge of your nose.  Move it to the back of your head.  Now, move it to the left.  The other left, stupid!   Were you right the first time? Move the thought to your forehead, to the back, and up to the front again.  Think about the present—you sitting there with your eyes closed, moving ideas around in your head.  Feels silly, doesn’t it? Keep your eyes closed and think about the past . . . small remembrances come to mind?   Think about the present and you probably see the setting in which you are now reading. Think about the future and I’ll bet you see an empty canvas.  The good news is that you can paint whatever you want on that canvas and even choose sounds to complement the images you create. The past is...