It’s a fair bet no-one at the beach last summer thought we’d see the range of issues and crises we’ve seen in the first half of 2018.
The year to date has been awash with political, sporting and corporate scandals.
High profile examples include:
- Australia’s Royal Commission inquiry into misconduct in banking, superannuation and financial services (resulting in resignations of three senior executives)
- The Cricket Australia (Baggy Greens) cheating scandal (impacting the character of a nation)
- The #MeToo movement spreading to Australia and New Zealand (with the exposure of sexual harassment behaviour in the workplace)
- The Auckland fuel pipeline rupture (impacting services at New Zealand’s international airport)
- Biosecurity incursions in New Zealand (such as mycoplasma bovis, and kauri dieback).
While each issue is different, there are some common factors behind them all:
- Not responding fast enough and allowing the issue to escalate.
- Not recognising the seriousness of the original issue.
- Individuals or organisations believing they’re above the law or societal norms.
- A perception of not wanting to take real action to address the issue.
- A perception of not being genuinely sorry for any wrongdoing.
- Ongoing media and social media scrutiny keeping the issue alive.
As a PROI colleague from Lansons (London, UK), Claudia Guembe, said recently:
"Uncertainty is everywhere and preparedness is the new currency.”
No doubt, the organisations involved in the above issues would have been working with uncertainty and were not prepared for the events facing them.
On these occasions, it is the quality of leadership that makes the difference, especially when dealing with information gaps, or issues requiring moral responsibility.
It is also the quality of planning and preparation that has been undertaken that makes the difference.
We all know this, so why is it that too few organisations still don’t either have an up-to-date crisis plan or, more importantly, have tested it in recent times?
SenateSHJ’s 2017 Reputation Reality survey found that only 55% of Australian respondents (up from 49%) and 48% of New Zealand respondents (down from 50%) planned to invest in crisis simulation training.
Given this is one of the most effective ways of preparing for a possible crisis, and of helping build the capability of organisations’ teams, it appears we should expect the second half of 2018 to be as issues-rich as the first.
I doubt this is what most CEOs envisage when they talk about the ‘need for their organisations, and themselves, to stand up, and stand out’.