In crisis, speed beats smart every time. All too frequently, when a crisis occurs managers and leaders fall into a pattern that takes what was initia

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Wednesday Wisdom  1 - Speed Beats Smart

In crisis, speed beats smart every time.

All too frequently, when a crisis occurs managers and leaders fall into a pattern that takes what was initially a serious problem and makes it into a crisis. That’s because these powerful mistakes occur almost immediately:

1. Top managers and leaders ignore staff voices who have worked and trained to be ready for these kinds of emergencies.
2. Staff support gets frantic about leader behavior and unresponsiveness, not realizing that top leadership is paralyzed by fear, no matter how brave their faces.
3. Wastes of time devoted to “starting over” rather than picking up where your planning and readiness is, assuming there are plans and readiness options in the works. (Each year, business organizations report that fewer than 30% of major corporations are ready for the emergencies that happen.)
4. It’s this fear, caused by apparent stalling, and lack of action that creates an irreversible, unexplainable, search-for-away-out pause that winds up dominating the perception left by a company, it’s reputation often seriously damaged.
5. My father had a saying, “When in doubt, do something.” His lesson is a powerful one. Doing something is always better than doing and saying nothing. Mistakes and failure are a part of crisis response, even for the best prepared organizations.
6. At the start, every day of the crisis you’re spending 50% of your energy, 25% of your resources correcting yesterday’s mistakes. Plan on it, plan for it, be ready for it.
7. The main cause of delay is the naïve management belief that if they just thought about it a little while longer, they could come up with the perfect, one shot solution. I’ve never seen one in 40 years of involvement with crisis situations.
8. The biggest mistake management usually makes is the failure to realize that to be a crisis in the first place, there have to be victims; people, animals, or living systems; sometimes all three. Victim treatment and compassionate handling are required from the start.
9. It’s the victims who hold your destiny in their hands, rather than the media.
10. Tragically, victims are often disbelieved and distrusted in the beginning, even those seriously injured or killed. Management often starts off by blaming them or ignoring them. This revictimization causes permanent personal damage.
11. Management is always surprised when victim producing crises occur. They are trained to believe it will never happen on their watch.
12. Today’s manager also believes that even if there is little or no preparation, they are trained and they are smart enough to handle these situations. Also, something I’ve rarely seen in 40 years.
13. What I’m illustrating here is that a pattern of neglectful, even anti-victim behavior which will come to dominate the post-crisis perception and analysis. Even if there is a brilliant solution and resolution, failing to be ready to speak promptly, be ready to take action, and do things and say things as quickly as possible can cause even the most perfect response to be lost in criticism and the embarrassment of looking like the perpetrating organization just doesn’t care. The response will be characterized as stumble, fumble, and bungle.
14. My father’s comment is terribly smart: “when in doubt, do something.” You can always explain it later. What is impossible to explain is doing nothing. Shifting the blame to someone else and feeling and acting put upon while victims are ailing or even dying.
15. The last time you want to learn the lesson of speed over perfection is during the surprise and fear of a crisis you caused, for the most part, yourselves.

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