EDITORIAL: The message of crisis incubation

So many of the factors involved in protecting corporate reputation boil down to common sense; therefore it is rather dispiriting that it takes an academic report, and a label to be applied to a 'syndrome', for them to be brought to management's attention.

So many of the factors involved in protecting corporate reputation boil down to common sense; therefore it is rather dispiriting that it takes an academic report, and a label to be applied to a 'syndrome', for them to be brought to management's attention.

Professor Smith's report, commissioned by Countrywide Porter Novelli, is interesting - but if its contents take any PRO by suprise they should probably think about an alternative career.

The report coins the phrase 'crisis incubation' to describe the lack of management insight and investment and unwillingness on the part of companies to listen to outside parties. It debunks the idea that a crisis can be put down to an 'act of God', implying that there is always an element of mismanagement or human error.

Coming as it does on the back of the tragic outcome of Railtrack's lack of investment in maintenance and the political management of the BSE crisis, this report comes perilously close to stating the obvious. However, as these incidents - and all too many other corporate crises - go to show, common sense frequently enters the management equation only after the event.

Countrywide Porter Novelli does not of course intend to preach to the converted but rather to those companies who all too often incubate crises.

Let's hope that the impact of this report is more than academic and that it won't take more deaths through mismanagement to bring home the potentially tragic implications of 'crisis incubation.'



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