Monday, January 23, 2012

Crashed into any rocks recently?

We can never know for sure how we will react in a crisis situation, until we are in it, regardless of our role, training or disposition.

We do know however, that we can all make ego-driven mistakes.   Thankfully these rarely have devastating consequences such as those created recently by Captain Schettino on (or off!) the Costa Concordia: loss of human life, environmental damage, blighted company reputation and national embarrassment.

But yes, we can all find ourselves ‘crashing into rocks’ at some point our friendships, relationships and business dealings and projects.  It is what we do in the next moment to respond and mitigate the damage and what we do after that and subsequently – which can make the difference.  

At any moment, whether we are a leader, part of a team or along for the ride, we have the opportunity to demonstrate:

  • Courage (to admit our mistakes, suppress our ego, take responsibility, be accountable)
  • Curiosity  (to be fully aware and to seek to understand the situation)
  • Care  (to give a damn)

Crisis leadership, styles of communication, cultural differences, the power of superstition in organisational culture and performance ...the lessons from Costa Concordia could keep us in blogs for a long time to come.  What is important however, is how Costa Cruises, Carnival Corporation & PLC and the industry reflect on what happened and how they respond.  Here’s hoping they look deeply into, and apply the principles of, organisational resilience and mindfulness in high reliability organisations, as offered by Denyer1 and Weick, Sutcliffe and Obstfeld2 respectively.

1. Denyer, D. (2010) "Leading for resilience", Management Focus, (28) 14-15.
 2.Weick, K.E, Sutcliffe, K.M and Obstfeld, D. (1999). “Organizing for High Reliability: Processes of Collective Mindfulness” in R.S. Sutton and B.M. Staw (eds), Research in Organizational Behavior, Vol. 1 (Stanford: Jai Press, 1999), 81–123
Image source:  Federico Stevanin/Free

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