Archive for the ‘Crisis Management’ Category

Perspective: When A “Crisis” Is Not A Crisis

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

On the eve of what the UK media would have you believe is a tsunami of constitutional and financial uncertainty, there is barely a negligible murmur outside of Scotland. Why? There is a general acceptance tonight that the probability (less than 20%) and the seriousness (minor impact on the UK economy) do not in all likelihood suggest a crisis. Bad news for those doomsday prognosticators, who only make money on the back of others’ perceived sense of fear. The lesson for business is that in any growth market, there is a need to separate real crises (outbreak of EBOLA) from events that in fact aren’t a crisis at all.

  1. Maintaining a rational perspective demands that you take the “emotion” (media agenda and personal biases) out of the “logic” (the probability and the seriousness of the impact).
  2. Focus only on hard evidence and strong anecdotal observations.
  3. Recognise that in a world of “omni-communication”, he or she who shouts loudest (Piers Morgan) from the largest platform (television, print, radio or Twitter) is rarely held accountable for their predictions. How many pollsters have ever lost their jobs or wealth, it is probably equivalent to television weather presenters?
  4. Make your own mind up and have the courage to back your own convictions (“trust”)

Tomorrow the world will not stop, there will not be a financial meltdown and business people will be out there deploying capital to attractive growth opportunities. Make sure that you are at the front of the line, not distracted by terrible advice or a self-inflicted fear of the unknown.

©  James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.

All Hands On Deck

Thursday, July 31st, 2014






I was reminded last weekend about the importance of preventative and contingent actions to sustain profitable growth and the uncertainty all managers must navigate through. When a crisis happens, there are leaders and businesses who excel (Johnson & Johnson) and others, who fail very publicly (UBS, RSA, Malaysia Airlines). Organisations prepare for the impact of natural disaster (wind, fire, cyber risk management and catastrophe insurance), what scuppers so many firms and for which they prepare so poorly, is for human failure (poor assumptions, fraud, corruption, greed, mismanagement etc).

In Hollviken, Sweden I chanced upon a group of “Vikings”, a modern day version of the 1958 film cast starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, and Janet Leigh, trudging disconsolately off the quay. Upon closer investigation, reality was stranger than fiction. This modern day group of Vikings had  sunk their boat in the neighbouring Canal on route from a neighbouring Vikings museum. With the help of a modern day pleasure craft and their crew, and the brawn of a few hardy Viking men they literally dragged their boat to safety with ropes.  All within one hour. There are four attributes, any business and manager charged with growth must excel at:
Vikings long walk







1. Reduce effects of the crisis first and rapidly 

Vikings sinking ship








2. Find the cause of the problem, don’t cast blame

Vikings to the rescue







3. Tell people what happened and get external, qualified help

Vikings nearing safety








4. The Leader is the last to leave the boat, his behaviour is an example to his key constituents

In the real world, there are real and perceived crises. There is the loss of a key client who is central to your growth plans. It is painful but it is not a crisis. However a regulatory decision that leaves a mid-sized business liable for a multi-million or billion dollar, euro or pound claim settlement, has a genuine crisis on their hands.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.