The Powell Doctrine and Crisis Management
Toyota, BP, even Tiger. They all have in common a failure to get in front of the news cycle, a failure to take decisive action immediately and a failure to apply the necessary resources to resolve the crisis or demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to its resolution.
According to the Powell Doctrine, the most effective way to maximize the potential for success and minimize casualties in battle is to use overwhelming force. The same must be said to be true when it comes to crises — large or small.
Instead of bringing decisive force many companies
apply a dated approach to crisis response. They believe that they can wait for the pain to blow over. They hope that a slow response will keep them out of the news. They worry more about the legal problems associated with any statement that puts them at risk of legal culpability instead of the reputational, financial and legal risks associated with failing to effectively communicate and act in response to the problem.
Where is BP? Why doesn’t every American know what they are doing to respond to this mess? Why are they not everywhere? Take a look at their site — there is no clear message, just video coverage of people trying to (ineffectively) stem the flow of oil. What a mistake.
This wasn’t BPs rig. As a member of the public, I don’t care. They own this problem. And their failure to embrace that reality is likely to cost them a whole lot more capital — financial and reputational — than it otherwise would have.