“An issue ignored is a crisis ensured”

Business today suffers from the perception that its leaders are complacent, greedy and unconcerned about the long-term welfare of their companies and the employees that have not been shown the door through downsizing. Government regulators are considered to be in the pockets of industry, examples of bureaucratic sloth. The media is widely believed to sensationalize the news as a means to establish its own agenda. Consumer activists, often considered to be agents for constructive change are being criticized for exaggerating the dangers facing society. To understand why, it is worth examining some interesting trends affecting the changing relationship between business and society.

The role of government and corporations in society is being challenged to a much greater degree than ever before.

  • The social landscape is changing
  • Corporate loyalty is no longer a given
  • People are less trusting of those in authority
  • Public policy formulation is still an evolutionary process
  • Corporate behavior is under much greater scrutiny

In the area of the triple bottom line – in the achievement of a balance between commercial success, environmental responsibility and social justice – the stakes are becoming much higher.  Businesses should now understand that successful companies are those which are outward facing and understand not only what their audiences are, but also what they think and what they want. They must realize that issues can be viewed in many different ways and emotion is a powerful perception changer. Companies that can minimize crisis are the ones that are able to move away from one-way information flow towards active dialogue with a wide range of stakeholder groups. How issues are handled can mean the difference between a crisis out of control and a proactive solution – between profit and loss. Many issues can be anticipated and successfully managed.

In one survey, 95% of people questionned felt that ‘issues’ in their companies were handled in a reactive and ad hoc manner, often to the detriment of reputation and financial performance goals. Research has shown that effective use of issues management techniques and awareness can:

  1. Increase market share
  2. Enhance corporate reputation
  3. Save money
  4. Build important relationships

The earlier a relevant issue can be identified and managed in terms of a systematic organizational response, the more likely it is that it the organization can resolve conflict and minimalism cost implications to its advantage.

Companies must learn to determine the urgency of the issues and need to realize that as the issue turns into a crisis if not dealt with adequately, management’s attention evaporates in favor of  more immediate and pressing matters. Urgent matters take precedent over important long term matters. The longer an issue survives the fewer choices are available and the more it costs. Early action allows for flexible and creative thinking.

The top 250 companies in the UK claimed that damage to reputation was the biggest business risk they faced. Good will is believed to account for 71% of total market capital.

The cost of damage to a company from mismanaging a crisis or perceived crisis can run into the millions of dollars, and in Exxon Valdez’s case an estimated $13 billion."

(Summarized from Regester & Larkin 2002)

Created From Actual Events

Catch Me if you Dare, although fictional, has been created from the following actual events:

  • SARS: The ultimate scare
  • BALI BOMB: The perfect storm
  • BRENT SPAR: The green issue
  • MONSANTO: The politics of genetics
  • DARK WINTER: The definitive weapon.

The above case studies are also discussed in the workbook: "Strategies for Action"

This is another original and unique program exclusively designed and presented by Tirian.