COMMENT: EDITORIAL; Captains walk their own plank

It’s all too easy for companies to dismiss direct hits on their reputations with the blithe reassurance that a good reputation is a nice thing to have but not directly linked to performance. It is only when the ship starts to take on water that the damage becomes harder to ignore.

It’s all too easy for companies to dismiss direct hits on their

reputations with the blithe reassurance that a good reputation is a nice

thing to have but not directly linked to performance. It is only when

the ship starts to take on water that the damage becomes harder to

ignore.



As its parent Trafalgar House sinks slowly into the welcoming embrace of

Kvaerner, Cunard’s attempts to brush off the effects of its ill-fated

QEII ‘building site cruise’ to New York last year look more like a case

of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.



There are other factors which have precipitated the company’s fall into

foreign hands. But it would take a supreme effort of arrogance not to

admit that the episode damaged the company.



The question is how many other companies have to be taken over, or go

under, and how many chief executives have to walk the plank before the

message sinks in?



Reputation matters. It affects the bottom line, sometimes in the most

horribly dramatic way. And the ultimate responsibility for reputation

lies not with some below decks lackey, but with the captain of the ship.



Any chairman or CEO who ignores this responsibility is unfit for command

and deserves to be set adrift on the high seas before he takes the ship

down with him.



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