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Corporate Crisis Management in the Era of “No Normal”

Who is on a corporate board in a crisis makes a difference.

Likely it is the pandemic that has been a major factor in pushing the Harvard Forum to take on this topic: “Crisis Management in the Era of ‘No Normal.’

Some key points made include:
  • Nothing seems “normal” any more
  • There is a confluence of crisis events
  • Crisis response is all the way up at the Board of Directors level
  • Not everyone is suited to crisis leadership

They list seven practical steps that can be taken to be prepared for a crisis. I especially liked No. 5:

“In recruiting a new CEO, pay particular attention to the candidate’s ability to inspire trust with multiple stakeholders. Boards have long vetted CEO candidates against a broad set of criteria: from business judgment and knowledge to communication skills, to a strong financial and operational track record. And boards have traditionally asked how a new CEO will be viewed by the investment community. But the pandemic revealed an essential need for CEOs to connect with, and be trusted by, multiple stakeholders—not just the company’s stockholders, but its customers, employees, business partners, regulators, and communities. Whether at companies with a new CEO such as United Airlines, or with a longer-tenured CEO such as Walmart, the CEO’s credibility with employees has been critical during the pandemic. While the selection of a CEO is not a popularity contest, directors should seek input on how the new CEO will be viewed by multiple stakeholders.”

More of my thinking on this “trust” issue. I recently participated in planning a workshop for elected officials on “Election Security, Cyber and Physical.”

We were talking about all the mechanics of the security system. Paper ballots, a state-run voter database so each county doesn’t do it, etc.

However, I hit on the issue of trust. Why are we having this workshop anyway? What is causing people to question the security of elections? It is the baseline issue of trust! That is something we need to attack. Yes, secure the election system, tell everyone how it is secure, but we need to also work on why people are questioning election results — a lack of trust in all manner of institutions.

There is plenty of work to be done on this trust issue.
Disaster Zone by Eric Holdeman is dedicated to sharing information about the world of emergency management and homeland security.
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