Why Some Companies Emerge Stronger and Better From a Crisis
Why Some Companies Emerge Stronger and Better From a Crisis: 7 Essential Lessons for Surviving Disaster – Ian I. Mitroff; AMACOM, 1601 Broadway, NY, NY 10019; wwwamacombooks.org; ISBN 0-8144-0850-8; 238 pages; March, 2005; $27.95
Reviewed by – G.A. “Andy” Marken, president, Marken Communications Inc, firstname.lastname@example.org
The inevitable is inevitable. The unthinkable is thinkable. The unpredictable is predictable. The abnormal is normal.
Today businesses of all shapes and sizes are faced with challenges and hazards. They can live in a dream world and say it will never happen to them or they can prepare for the unexpected and the impossible. While Andy Grove, former chairman of Intel, is known for coining and expanding on the thought that “only the paranoid survive;” Mitoff has developed a unique wrinkle to this – “think like a controlled paranoid.”
Whether you’re an optimist, pessimist or controlled paranoid, his new work is a must read for anyone concerned with guiding their organization through the unimaginable, unthinkable crisis that will occur. He has identified and discusses the seven key elements (he identifies them as IQs) companies and management must have to successfully emerge from the occurrence stronger and healthier than before the event.
Not only one of the leading authorities on the broad subject of crisis management, Ian Mitoff is also one of the most prolific in sharing his knowledge and his expertise. The author of more than nine books on crisis management and continuity planning (we have only read four of them), he has honed his thoughts and messages. In the early days of the field all companies had to deal with and work through were “simple” disaster – fires, floods and similar natural events and the occasional network-wide crash or petty theft.
With cyberattacks, terrorism, massive fraud, phishing, identity theft and violence coming in every shape and type; it makes us yearn for ‘the good old days.’ That was the time when your organization wrote a disaster preparedness plan. Security, IT and a few other departments had a copy and someone in each department had the honorary added job of disaster coordinator or something similar. If the company was really conscientious a disaster was practiced once or twice a year and everyone enjoyed play-acting.
Those days are gone forever and as the times have changed Mitoff has modified and advanced his approach and thoughts on disaster planning/crisis planning. But his latest effort – Why Some Companies Emerge Stronger… -- is perhaps his finest work because focuses on the individuals and the human aspects of bringing organizations and people through the trying times.
Disaster planning and crisis management is a lot like your PC’s hard drive crashing. It isn’t a matter of if it will occur but when. Then how will the organization and you deal with and work through the crisis. Finally how will the organization and its people come through the crisis better and stronger than before?
Finally someone has addressed organizations as living, breathing entities. In his latest book Mitoff does away with the platitudes and “business theory” to focus on the complete person – physical, mental and emotional.
Perhaps his finest work, Why Some Companies Emerge is the result of his 25 years in the field. The book is based on interviews with senior management in a wide range of large and medium-sized firms. But the value in reading the book is his viola!! on how companies successfully or unsuccessfully handle crisis.
Drawing from real examples and interviews, the book is written around his seven IQs which he identifies and then explains. The seven are:
- Emotional IQ – acceptance of the inevitability of the crisis so people can more easily process the shock and awe of the actual event
- Creative IQ – by its very nature crisis destroys the natural order of things so people must be able to quickly and actively thing outside the box
- Social and Political IQ – once you understand that the company and industry aren’t isolated islands you are in a better position to realize how external factors affect the firm
- Interactive IQ – each of your stakeholder groups have a different experience and perception of the crises and you have to identify and reconcile these difference and focus on uniting the groups to a common cause and goal
- Technical IQ – the only way to uncover potential crises is to examine and reexamine every “fact” you have so you can find ways to avoid or dull its effects
- Aesthetic IQ – take a long, hard, impassioned look at the model and infrastructure you have in place to handle crises and then move to a broader scope and canvas to make crisis management a healthy part of daily business life
- Spiritual IQ – until reading this book we haven’t seen any authority on crisis management come to grips with the fact that we are dealing with very fragile and very diverse individuals and that the personal toll – spiritual, mental, emotional and physical damage – are the most important part of the recovery, healing process
Why Some Companies Emerge will probably never make Business Week’s business library must have list and that’s unfortunate. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for the inevitable and help your organization and management team be prepared for the unthinkable.
You’ll find Mitoff’s book crammed with ideas and guidelines that are easy to read and understand. The book will not only prepare you for the crisis that was never possible, it will also help you be the type of person people will turn to for assistance and guidance to get through the trying times and come out the other side better than before!