787 Dreamliner or Nightmare – Boeing Has A Crisis

Over the last several weeks, we have read about the problems with Boeing’s new state-of –the-art 787, which has resulted in the FAA “grounding” the entire fleet of this new airliner. The center of the storm is focused on the new lithium-ion batteries used in the construction of the 787.

The situation has quickly evolved into a nightmare for the leadership team at Boeing. While they need to work under a “time is of the essence” model, they don’t want to rush to arrive at an incomplete or partial solution. Future revenues, customers (those who buy their planes) trust and the ability to restore traveler confidence are the main issues at stake.

Every business – big or small, public or private – will face many a crisis over time, and these situations go right to the heart of the company’s strategy. It is often said that during a crisis the ability of the leadership team is tested. In my leadership and executive coaching role I spend a fair amount of time with my clients discussing strategic leadership and how it affects the way in which they handle a crisis.

From my client work to events as a business speaker to personal experiences in dealing with crisis management, I have created a simple 10 Point Checklist Guide that will help you successfully manage a crisis. Keep in mind that every crisis is different, and this guide is to be utilized to develop your initial track. Use it and expand it to fit your needs. To learn more, be sure to check out Step Up and Play Big.

10 Point Checklist Guide to Successfully Manage A Crisis

So, what can you do to effectively manage a crisis? Here are some steps that I have learned and utilized that will provide you a track to run on:

1. Stop the bleeding quickly. Get to work on minimizing the disruptive effect it is having on your operations, services and customers.
2. Assess the damage and get the facts. Ask questions of the right people so you can separate the clutter and fiction from reality.
3. With a better grasp of the relevant facts, you are now in an excellent position to dispel rumors (which always surface during a crisis) and communicate next steps.
4. There is no time for emotion, excuses or blame. The initial goal is to understand the real cause.
5. Begin to set expectations and accountabilities within your team regarding initial tasks. The goal is to get the team focused on stabilizing the situation. Make sure to solicit input from your team to help you set realistic deadlines for the completion of these initial tasks.
6. Let’s not forget “Murphy’s Law.” You know, if anything can go wrong, it will. In a crisis, multiply the likelihood of Murphy showing his face by a factor of 10. To combat this, work hard to keep your plan clear and updated; demand quality communications and quick action when new surprises appear.
7. Be seen and be heard. It is important that your team see you involved as their leader. You want to make certain that you get 100% understanding and buy-in from your team on the job to get done.
8. As normalcy returns, begin to identify those things you would have done differently. What would have allowed you to either prevent the crisis or handle it more quickly and effectively? Incorporate those findings that make the most sense into systems and procedures within your business. Make certain that your entire team understands these changes and are trained in their proper execution.
9. Acknowledge the hard work of your team during the crisis. Do what you must to demonstrate to them that you are genuinely appreciative of their effort. Help them to learn from the experience, so that they will be better the next time.
10. And, rest assured, there will be a next time.

How you handle a crisis can make the difference between success and failure in both your personal and professional life. You may not be as large as Boeing – nor face the same PR scrutiny – but remember, your customers have a powerful and instant communication tool with social media and blogs. Your crisis may not be as a big as a jetliner, but it could absolutely be damaging to your business and bottom-line. Take the time to prepare a crisis plan ahead of time, so you’ll have a clear and concise path to action should something go wrong.

Chris Ruisi – Author, Executive Leadership Coach and Founder of Step Up and Play Big.

Author's Bio: 

Chris Ruisi is an author, experienced executive / business coach as well as accomplished leadership/business motivational speaker. He mentors and guides executives and business leaders to find their “stretch” point to learn the full measure of their capabilities.” Chris understands how leadership works, how organizations work, how power works, and how decision making works. Known as a popular blogger, and sought after speaker, he has also created an extensive video library on YouTube. Through this work, he has created a community of entrepreneurs, executives, and business leaders who understand the importance of being able to Step Up, and Play Big.