Crisis Coaching Transcript
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Disasters like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Minneapolis bridge collapse in August, force first responders, investigators, law enforcement, community and corporate leaders to work together in ways ...

Disasters like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Minneapolis bridge collapse in August, force first responders, investigators, law enforcement, community and corporate leaders to work together in ways they never would day-to-day.

Effective leadership is the hallmark of a successful response to a crisis. But it also requires exceptional levels of organization, communication, cooperation and commitment by everyone involved.

How can coaching help companies, community groups and public agencies ensure that their people will be ready to take action when the worst happens?

Guests

* Len Biegel, General Counsel of the Biegel Group

* Dr. John Harrald, George Washington Institute for Crisis Disaster

* Myra Jolivet, Chief Communication and Marketing Officer for the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles

* Larry Smith, Coach and President of the Institute for Crisis Management

Summary

Last year, nearly a million volunteers of the American Red Cross and its 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters and taught lifesaving skills to millions. From sudden crises including natural disasters and explosions to smoldering crises like class action lawsuits that can paralyze an organization, these catastrophes have a significant impact on the lives of those affected.

An October 2007 YouGov survey found world events and crises left 56% of people surveyed feeling powerless, 50% of people surveyed feeling angry, 35% of people surveyed feeling anxious and 26% of people surveyed feeling depressed.

Are today’s corporations and small to medium sized businesses prepared to handle a crisis when it occurs?

And how are coaches who specialize in crisis prevention and response working with organizations to prepare and guide leaders through these catastrophic events?

Our panel of experts address these questions and more.

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Crisis Coaching Transcript Document Transcript

  • 1. Insight on Coaching Crisis Coaching Transcript Prepared for: Prepared by: Insight Educational Consulting Ubiqus Reporting (IEC)
  • 2. Time Speaker Transcript Tom Floyd Hello everyone, and welcome to Insight On Coaching. Insight On Coaching explores the many facets, flavors, and sides of the emerging professional coaching field. I’m Tom Floyd, I’m the CEO of Insight Educational Consulting, and your host for today’s show. This week our topic is Crisis Coaching. We will discuss the types of crisis situations and natural disasters affecting the world today; we will discuss whether most businesses are prepared to handle catastrophes and natural disasters; and most importantly, we will discuss the role of crisis coaching, taking a look at how these experts are working with organizations, leaders, and individuals to both prepare and recover from a crisis, natural disaster, or some other type of catastrophe. With me to explore this topic are four guests, and let me give you a quick overview on who we have with us today. Our first guest, Len Biegel, is a crisis communications and management expert. Since the Tylenol tampering crisis 25 years ago, he’s helped hundreds of companies and their senior executives prepare for and respond to crises. He helped American Airlines on 9/11 and was called on by the Business Roundtable to write the Post-9/11 Crisis Communications Toolkit. He is President of The Biegel Group and Of Counsel to Levick Strategic Communications, one of the world’s leading crisis firms, with offices in Washington, New York, Atlanta and London. Len’s new book, Never Say Never, will be published in December. Welcome to the show, Len. 1:48 Len Biegel Thank you. 1:51 Tom Floyd Our second guest, Dr. Jack Harrald, PhD, is the Co-Director of The George Washington University Institute for Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management and a Professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering in the George Washington School of Engineering and Applied Science. He is a member of the National Research Council Disasters Roundtable Steering Committee and the National Research Council Committee on Aviation Emergency Management. Jack is also the Executive Editor of the electronic Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and is the Immediate Past President of The International Emergency Management Society. Welcome to the show, Jack. 2 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 2 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 3. Time Speaker Transcript 2:27 Jack Harrald Thank you. 2:28 Tom Floyd Our next guest, Myra Jolivet, is Chief Communication and Marketing Officer of the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles. An experienced communications professional, Myra has worked in the non-profit, public and private sectors, and formerly served as the company spokesperson for Shell/Texaco, where she co-authored the corporate crisis communications policy for this $50 billion company. Myra’s wide-ranging career has also included serving as the Assistant Director of Communications under former City of Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire and also as the former Director of Communications for Houston's current Mayor Bill White. Welcome to the show, Myra. 3:03 Myra Jolivet Hello, and thank you. I guess I should say, ‘good afternoon’. 3:06 Tom Floyd I think it is good afternoon and good morning both, for some of us. And last but not least, our fourth guest, Larry Smith, works with executives of organizations seeking to minimize the negative public reaction to a business crisis. He also assists in developing pro-active crisis communication plans and teaches seminars in crisis management. Larry has more than 45 years experience in the news and public relations business. He was summoned to Washington, DC in the early 80s to serve as Press Secretary to then-Senator Dan Quayle. Smith also guided Senator Quayle, a member of the Armed Services Committee, through the media onslaught following the downing of a U.S. airliner over North Korea. Welcome to the show, Larry. 3:47 Larry Smith Thank you very much. 3 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 3 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 4. Time Speaker Transcript 3:49 Tom Floyd Well, some initial data to set the stage, to get the conversation going. I want to start out with a few points that our research team put together. The first one is actually a statistic from the American Red Cross. − Last year, nearly a million volunteers of the American Red Cross and its 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. − A YouGov survey, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation ahead of World Mental Health Day this year on Wednesday, October 10, 2007, found that world events and crises left 56% of people surveyed feeling powerless, 50% of people surveyed feeling angry, 35% of people surveyed feeling anxious and 26% of people surveyed feeling depressed. − The Press Association Business found in a survey of working Americans, terrorism is people's greatest fear - 70% say they are most worried about terrorism, and a quarter by the threat of a natural disaster (23%). − The American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles completed 366 responses to just local disaster incidents in 2006, and this year, it most notably responded to one of the largest and most devastating disasters, the Southern California Wildfires. Myra, I would like to start with you, just a big picture question—can you tell us a little bit about the American Red Cross in terms of your mission, the types of catastrophes and natural disasters that your organization helps communities prepare for, all that good stuff. 5:35 Myra Jolivet Well, thank you. As you know, the Red Cross is primarily a volunteer driven organization, and our mission is to help people in any matter of disaster, whether it be a natural disaster or manmade, and what we try to do is to provide shelter, food, and the mainstays that help people get through the disaster, and we help initially to help get their lives back in order. Eighty percent of most Americans just don’t really process the fact that preparation— if there is a best way to face a disaster, it would be in being prepared. A lot of our mission when we are not in direct response to a disaster is in preparing a community and providing awareness of the things that you can do to prepare your home, your company, your organizations, for the unthinkable. 4 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 4 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 5. Time Speaker Transcript 6:38 Tom Floyd And in terms of why they aren’t prepared, and I even think, when I think of my own reactions to some of these things that I might be guilty of this as well; it is almost like people are in denial, “Oh, it’s not going to happen in my area. I’m not ever going to have to deal with anything this big.” 6:55 Myra Jolivet What I compare it to is when you do this kind of work you are almost like the Chicken Little in the community. You always say what could happen. And I think for many people, trying to anticipate is not a natural activity. There are some people who are wired that way, but for most people, it is dealing with what is happening right now in front of me in this moment. I think all of us on this call, in one way or another, have and do participate in the business of trying to anticipate a problem. I had that in the corporate arena, as some of our guests, and in politics definitely, and here at the Red Cross we are always trying to tell people, “Let’s get a kit so that you can make sure that you have what you will need in the event of a disaster. Let’s have your documents that are important to your family; your credit card numbers, birth certificates, you name it. Let’s put those in something so they can’t be destroyed in fire or by water.” And to be honest, I didn’t do that before I came here, because I think we are all just so busy dealing with what is right in front of us. Do the other guests agree with that? 5 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 5 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 6. Time Speaker Transcript 8:08 Len Biegel This is Len. I absolutely agree. Over the years I have noticed, and I keep preaching on this subject, pay attention to wakeup calls. This past week, which we thought was going to be a quiet holiday week, certainly was a wakeup call for those tourism companies sailing ships in the waters of Antarctica. I am sure you all saw the headlines about the ship that hit some ice and took on water quickly and sunk. One-hundred and fifty people were saved after a harrowing experience of about four and a half hours in rough waters. The reason I know this fairly intimately is because a lot of what I do is in the maritime area, and the ship that rescued the people from the ship that sank is our client, Hurtigruten. They just happened to be there, and they did a marvelous job. But what is interesting about this is it is a wakeup call. If you look at the New York Times yesterday and today, and other papers, they are talking about now, finally, what a risky area, an ungoverned area, Antarctica is, and we better wake up and create some jurisdictional guidelines for how companies can operate safely in that area. So it is a wakeup call. Time will only tell how much of a wakeup call it is, but over the years we have had so many wakeup calls and it is a question of how effectively companies and governments pay attention to it, of course, but we need these wakeup calls, unfortunately. 9:56 Jack Harrald This is Jack, and I would agree with Myra and Len also. One of the most difficult things is to learn from other people’s experiences. We learn somewhat from our own, but we can watch what happened to people in New Orleans and still not get prepared ourselves, or we can watch what happened to the cruise ship in Antarctica and still not really check out the cruise line that we are going on, because it can’t happen to us—rare events happen infrequently by definition, so most of us have been fortunate enough not to experience an extreme event, and so the bias is that it hasn’t happened to us so it can’t happen to us. 6 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 6 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 7. Time Speaker Transcript 10:37 Larry Smith Tom, this is Larry. Our company maintains that there are no new crises, there is nothing that is going to happen to you or your organization or your business that hasn’t happened to somebody else someplace before, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, if you are paying attention you will be able to learn from other people’s successes and failures. Right after the September 11th attacks on The Pentagon and New York City and the field in Pennsylvania, we were asked to write a book for the American Association of Community Colleges, aimed at crisis planning for college administrators, and when we submitted the first draft to an editor in Washington, I don’t think it had been on her desk an hour and she called and said, “Mr. Smith, there is an error in your first chapter.” And I said, “Oh my goodness, what is it?” She said, “You say here that there are no new crises. Well, what about September 11th?” And I sat here in my office with a great big smile on my face and kind of toughed up a little bit and I said, “Well, we have had airplanes hijacked in the United States since 1973. We have had a terrorist attack by the same group on the same building in 1993. We had airplanes fly into tall buildings in New York City, a U.S. military plane flew into the top of the Empire State Building during World War II, and we have had buildings burn and collapse. There was nothing that happened that day that hadn’t happened someplace else in the world.” I did concede to her that maybe it was on a little grander scale, but I wasn’t even sure about that. But if we just look around and look at the headlines every day, whatever size organization or company you have, small or large, there are so many things that can happen, and you are being very foolish not to prepare for it. Myra hit the nail right on the head. As residents and citizens of a community, it is hard to imagine that something bad is going to happen to me. If I am a CEO of a company or the owner of a company, it is hard for me to imagine that anything bad is going to happen to my company, because I run a good ship. I have heard that over and over again. 12:50 Tom Floyd So there is almost disbelief that it is not going to happen to me because “I am doing everything right and I am prepared, that I don’t have to worry about that.” 7 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 7 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 8. Time Speaker Transcript 12:59 Tom Floyd But bad things happen to good companies. Just like bad things happen to good people. 13:07 Jack Harrald This is Jack again. We were actually told by one of our customers or clients, a major transportation provider, that they had never had a fatal accident and they never would. 13:22 Tom Floyd That makes me nervous just hearing that. That is almost like hearing it as some kind of a jinx. 13:25 Jack Harrald The first part of that is data, the second part of that is wishful thinking. 13:28 Larry Smith Jack, be sure to let us know later who that is, so we will avoid riding with them. 8 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 8 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 9. Time Speaker Transcript 13:37 Myra Jolivet This is Myra. I know you guys may have heard that this weekend we had fires in Malibu again, and we had just had large wildfires in Southern California a few weeks ago, and then once again this weekend in Malibu. Now this was a smaller scale. Small when it is not your house. There were 53 homes destroyed in this one. I don’t want to speculate on the cause. There is some speculation in the media right now, but it would be inappropriate for me to repeat that. But what we know is that home fires are very common in Southern California where it is dry, but yet as happened in the last fire, it was unfortunately a child playing with matches. That one incident destroyed thousands—I think 1200 homes. That is what we talk about in terms of preparation, to know that whether it is a cooking fire or smoking deaths, death caused by fires, especially in this area of the country, is just enormous, and there are families that don’t even have smoke detectors. There are families where someone is still careless with cigarettes. Alarm systems, sprinklers, you name it. These things should be in place in companies, and in homes. One incident, one spark, can set off an entire region, as you guys know from what you have seen in the news here. 15:22 Tom Floyd And Myra, because the Southern California wildfires is just so recent and still so prominent in everyone’s mind, can you talk to us a little bit more about a couple of things related to that? One, how did the Red Cross go about handling that crisis, from both handling it for individuals to businesses to working with the community, things like that, and from the corporate side of things, what was the impact, or what has been the impact of the Southern California wildfires on both small and large businesses alike in that area? 9 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 9 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 10. Time Speaker Transcript 15:59 Myra Jolivet Well, what we did was—and I can throw out a few numbers to sort of give an idea— we had more than 40 tractor trailers of cots, blankets, comfort kits, and cleanup supplies in San Bernardino, and that was on day three. You multiply that for what we did throughout, and I don’t know if you guys know the area, Santa Clarita and the valley, down through to Orange County. San Diego is not in our immediate area, but San Diego ended up with thousands of people in their stadium, because they were displaced from the fires, and they had even more activity. More than 5,000 volunteers, and they came from all over the country to help with these people, this place, out from their homes because of the fires. The impact, I know we are still getting figures to try to gauge what happened from a business standpoint. We know that thousands lost their homes, and we know that we are recovering even today, we are helping with the health and safety response that we do is to deal with the issue you brought up in the beginning, the feeling of powerlessness, the mental health concerns for people who have been displaced and all of the things that change in their lives. We have nurses who provided medication to those who had to leave their homes. We also had hundreds of emergency response vehicles that circulated in the affected areas between San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Orange County. It is really hard for me to put into a capsule how much this actually cost. 17:43 Tom Floyd From a communications perspective, what were the most important points? I guess this is both specific to that incident, but just in general, what are the most important things to communicate to the public at large, while that event is happening? 17:58 Myra Jolivet I can say this. The Red Cross projected that the Southern California wildfires in October—let me separate that from this past weekend—would cost 12 to 15 million dollars in terms of repairing and restoring everything that was destroyed as a result. That I think is a significant impact when you look at the communities and what was happening. Fortunately, so many companies stepped up to the plate and offered donations and individuals offered donations to help us meet that goal, but that was our immediate tabulation on the impact and effect, 12 to 15 million dollars. 10 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 10 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 11. Time Speaker Transcript 18:48 Tom Floyd Jack, Larry, or Len—anything that you would add just in general in terms of what are the primary things to focus on and initial communications that go out to various groups, to the public, to victims, all of those things, when a catastrophe or a natural disaster occurs. 19:05 Len Biegel This is Len. I think one of the things that we are so far behind generally in this country is acquiring those skills that we call risk communication. There has been absolutely wonderful research done over the years, particularly at Columbia University, that shows us who the public wants to hear from, how they want to hear it, what they don’t want to hear, and while there has been some good progress in coaching for example, I think it is an area that has yet to be fully tapped, because in a God forbid situation, we may not be ready to address the public with the right sensitivity to avoid panic, avoid rumors. 19:52 Tom Floyd Well, I am starting to hear the music for our commercial break. Let’s go ahead and go on pause. Stay tuned everyone. More from Insight on Coaching and about Crisis Coaching specifically when we return. 11 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 11 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 12. Time Speaker Transcript 22:36 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching, I’m Tom Floyd. Today the topic is Crisis Coaching, and with me are Len Biegel, coach at Levick Strategic Communications, and general counsel of the Biegel Group; Dr. Jack Harrald, PhD, Director at the George Washington Institute for Crisis Disaster and Risk management; Myra Jolivet, Chief Communication and Marketing Officer for the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles; and Larry Smith, coach and President of the Institute for Crisis Management. In this segment of the show I would like to really focus on why some businesses and other organizations might not be prepared for a natural disaster or other type of crisis. Some more data to set the stage. As described in CNN last week (November 20th, 2007 to be exact), − “Businesses risk interruption due to weather, pandemic or terrorist-related events.” In response to the 9/11 attacks, President Bush immediately announced the establishment of an Office of Homeland Security (OHS) to coordinate quot;homeland securityquot; efforts, which later became the Department of Homeland Security, established on November 25, 2002, by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. − A survey sponsored by Office Depot in June 2007 found that 71 percent of small businesses do not have a disaster plan, while 64 percent say that a disaster plan was unnecessary. − The Office Depot survey further found that 63 percent of small businesses say that they can resume business within 72 hours of a natural disaster, a timeframe that is most critical for small business recovery. According to John Toigo, a recovery expert cited with the survey results, quot;For larger businesses, if they don't assume critical business functions with 72 hours, most will be out of business within a year. Seventy-two hours is the critical period, but smaller businesses have at the most a week or two weeks on the outside to resume operations.quot; Jack, I would like to start with you. Can you talk to us a little bit about why the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security was important for U.S. businesses and also I guess the second part of that question is why did it take a catastrophe like 9/11 to get people to realize the need for it? 12 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 12 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 13. Time Speaker Transcript 25:04 Jack Harrald Well, I think that second part of that goes back to our first discussion that we needed to have a wakeup call and that was a wakeup call for many, many things. Part of initially the office of Homeland Security as you mentioned and later the department were attempts at focusing on public and private partnerships and focusing on standards supporting the National Fire Protection Association standard 1600, for businesses. DHS is important because for the first time I think we have the federal government saying that the private sector or the resilience of the private sector is an important national security issue as well as an economic security issue and adding its weight to that. Having said that, it is not entirely clear that all the actions taken have been particularly effective. 25:58 Tom Floyd Okay. Larry, I would like to go ahead and loop you in on this as well. I want to refer to the next— 26:05 Larry Smith Let me take a little different tact than where you are right now. Our definition or my definition of a crisis, a business or organizational crisis is any disruption or threatened disruption that affects your ability to do what you do; make widgets, provide service, meet a need, whatever that is, and most likely have an impact on your bottom line. If you are going to have those two things happen to you then you are going to have some kind of business crises or an organizational crisis. There are four types of crises; the bizarre, the finger in the Wendy’s chili a year ago in California—remember that one? 26:48 Tom Floyd Yep, I actually was in California. I do remember that one. 26:52 Larry Smith I just started eating Wendy’s chili again and I really like it. 26:55 Tom Floyd Wasn’t there a rumor about there being a rat at some point in the chili, too? 13 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 13 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 14. Time Speaker Transcript 26:58 Larry Smith There could be. The perceptual crisis; Proctor and Gamble for 30 years had a corporate logo that had a half moon and some stars in it and every six years or so someone in the heartland of America would look at that corporate logo and say those are symbols of devil worship, we are going to boycott their products. Both of those are the kinds of things you can’t plan for because you have no idea what they are going to be like and where they are going to come from, but you have to manage them when they happen. Then there is the sudden crisis. The fires, the explosions, the natural disasters, the workplace violence, and those things you don’t know when they are going to happen but at some time or another in everyone’s career, there is going to be an exposure to one or more of those and you can plan for them. You can get through them, particularly if you have a plan. Then there is the fourth type of crisis. We call them the smoldering crisis. They start out small, often internal, but not always, and they are the kind of thing that somebody in an organization should spot as a potential problem and either fix it or tell somebody who can fix it. I can sit down with almost any organization and tell you, based on years of experience and our research, the kinds of smoldering things that are most likely to happen. Sexual harassment, class action lawsuits, somebody cooking the books, HR issues, and you can plan for those. 28:17 Tom Floyd So smoldering things are things that happen more over time, they are not necessarily immediate, it could be a problem that really starts to build. 28:24 Larry Smith You are right. You may have hours before it blows up and becomes public, you may have days. In the case of the Firestone/ATX tire debacle of the last decade, the companies knew they had a problem as early as 1993, it was driven home again in 1997 and nothing was done, it was early 2000 when a whistle blower or someone with a conscience in one of those two companies called KHOU-TV in Houston and said, “You ought to look into this ATX tire problem that Firestone and Ford Explorers are having,” and then it blew up. They had years, at least seven, to fix that one. 14 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 14 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 15. Time Speaker Transcript 29:01 Myra Jolivet And can I add to that, because I am a former KHOU person. 29:04 Larry Smith Right. 29:05 Tom Floyd Absolutely. 29:06 Myra Jolivet One of my former colleagues at the AVC station was killed. I don’t know if you mentioned that. It was the truck had those particular tires. Stephen Golvane was killed coming from a story. His station didn’t do the story, but my former station, KHOU, really sort of ignited that investigation. 29:28 Larry Smith And they did a great job and provided a great service. I did an extensive interview here in the states on television after this all kind of blew up. Firestone was owned by a Japanese parent company and Japanese TV came over to do a documentary about it, and they interviewed me about how I thought Firestone handled the PR part of it, and when we were done, we walked out to the parking lot together and I got in my car, which had Firestone/ATX tires on it, and two hours later, I was on an interstate doing 70 miles an hour and the front left tire exploded. 30:06 Tom Floyd Oh my gosh. 30:07 Larry Smith I managed to keep it upright and pointed in the right direction. That tire now hangs in the lobby of our offices as an example of a smoldering crisis. 30:15 Myra Jolivet Wow. 15 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 15 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 16. Time Speaker Transcript 30:16 Len Biegel This is Len. Looking at the larger picture, because in the course of writing my book I dug into why these statistics are so revealing about the companies that are not prepared, and when we look at them there are various levels of denial—“It won’t happen to us”— training costs too much, training is disruptive, etc., etc., and the conclusion that I have come to, it is my conclusion and also some people at the National Association of Corporate Directors, it may not change, we may not fill that gap of the unprepared until it becomes a corporate governance issue that boards begin to formally consider this a governance issue and say to the CEOs, “Where is your plan? How well prepared are you? How well trained are you?” It is going to take a long time to get there, but I suspect we are going to need some board pressure which we are seeing little bits of but not enough yet. 31:21 Jack Harrald This is Jack Harrald. I would agree with that totally, just taking our own domain. I am at a private university, and when we started our institute here we tried to get people interested at the university level in crisis management, being the largest non- government employer in Washington DC and universities having many vulnerabilities, and we didn’t get very far until 9/11, and as was said earlier, that was as wakeup call and we started with that, and we now have a Vice President for emergency preparedness, as many universities do, but it was the Virginia Tech tragedy that really got the corporate governance, not only in our university, but universities across the country, boards of directors of private universities and state governments and others, to really look at universities to see where they are, and that pressure in this slice of organizations has really become a major governance issue. But you are right, in most places it is not. 32:21 Len Biegel This is Len again. If I could take that one step further, if you are a board member who really wants this to become a governance issue, you need the tools to guide you to know what is effective crisis planning. That is a whole other subject, too. 32:38 Myra Jolivet It totally is. 16 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 16 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 17. Time Speaker Transcript 32:39 Tom Floyd I also want to come back, I am just dying to ask this question, it was one of the points from the Office Depot survey, and it mentioned that most large companies would be out of business in a year if they couldn’t recover effectively from a crisis, regardless of what the crisis was, within 72 hours. That seemed like such a short timeframe to me, to say, “If you can’t recover that quickly, you are toast in a year.” Can all of you speak more to that? Has that been your experience as well? Why is that 72 hour timeframe so critical? 33:08 Len Biegel This is Len. I think that 72 hours is kind of surprising, but it would be interesting to see where it really comes from, but nonetheless, companies suffer terribly in their share price if they are publicly held and they mishandle a crisis. Look at the companies that are no longer around. Look at the company—look at A.H. Robbins, the maker of Robitussin cough medicine. It is not around anymore because they mishandled a product crisis several years ago. Look at Union Carbide and Bhopal, there is nothing left. The companies do disappear, but I really wonder about the 72 hours. 17 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 17 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 18. Time Speaker Transcript 33:48 Myra Jolivet I wonder about that, too. This is Myra, and I agree with you guys, but there are a couple of points I am going to put on the table in support of that. I don’t know the 72 hours exactly, but I say look at New Orleans. Now, in the wildfires I couldn’t address businesses much because our recent wildfires have been more in the residential area, but if we want to look at business, let’s look at New Orleans, and let’s look at how many small businesses will not get back on their feet because they couldn’t manage. Let’s look at the major corporations who had to move their operations into other cities and the long-term impact that they felt. I do have to say one thing. I have colleagues who have a distinction or differentiation between a disaster and a crisis, and I don’t know if we want to get into the semantics. I think it may be better to just say a crisis, I guess in our definition, would be those smoldering things that you guys described, and a disaster would be something like wildfires, hurricanes, but does it really matter? If it is a bad thing, it is a bad thing, and it is a matter of handling it. I remember in corporate there used to be more frequent mock drills—tell me if I am imaging this—more frequent mock drills where you actually had to go through soup to nuts. Y ou went from here is what the disaster would look like and feel like, you practiced your legal response, your HR response, your crisis communications response, and then it seemed to turn into more of a tabletop, “Yeah, we’ve got to do it,” kind of thing. Am I overstating that, or do you guys notice that as well? 35:27 Len Biegel This is Len. I notice it, but I don’t know that we have enough information to say that there is more tabletops versus simulations. Over the years as I have done these, and I have done them from the 18 hour great sagas, which I think are overkill, to what I think you can accomplish in three to four hours, but it is the reality of it that comes into play. 35:53 Tom Floyd I hate to interrupt you. I am hearing music for our next commercial break. Let’s go ahead and go on pause. Stay tuned everyone, more Insight on Coaching when we return. 18 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 18 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 19. Time Speaker Transcript 38:41 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching, I’m Tom Floyd. Today the topic is Crisis Voaching, and with me are Len Biegel, Dr. Jack Harrald, PhD, Myra Jolivet, and Larry Smith. In this segment of our show I really want to focus on some of the work that coaches, who specialize in handling crisis situations, natural disasters, catastrophes and things like that are able to help with, but I want to come back to something. I know during our commercial break we were talking about the 72 hour timeframe statistics that were mentioned in the Office Depot survey in our last segment, and Larry, you have a point that you wanted to bring up about that. 39:18 Larry Smith The 72 hours I am not sure where that number fits in with that study, but in reality, what our challenge is, as we work with corporate executives and teach them or motivate them or educate them to be better prepared, is that it is how quickly—they have to do two things in the first few hours. They have to get control of the crisis as much as possible, and they have to start communicating with key audiences, and that doesn’t necessarily mean the news media. They have got to start communicating with employees, reassuring them that the company is going to get through this, they have got to communicate with vendors and customers that they are going to still be there next week, they have got to communicate with shareholders if they are publicly traded or with the bankers if they are privately held, and the challenge for those of us who are crises coaches, and I have never thought of that term, but it is exactly what we do at our company anyway, is to get people to take a look at what can go wrong, what are the vulnerabilities of their organization, and what can they do to get prepared to get through it. Then we have the added service that once the stuff hits the fan, we will go in oftentimes with a client, as I am sure Len does, and help guide them through it, coach them through the step by step, day by day elements, but communicating with key audiences—first of all, identifying them, and then communicating with them on a regular basis. And I am not talking about the media, necessarily. It is one of the most important challenges that we face. Everybody has got to have three crisis plans, from the Red Cross to the University at Georgetown, to Enron and Shell, and everybody else. You have got to have an operational crisis plan—what do you do when somebody pulls the fire alarm; the communications plan—who is going to say what and when and how; and a third plan, a continuity or recovery plan, to help get you back in business. If you have got those three, and if you have them integrated as they ought to be, you are one leg up on everybody else. 19 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 19 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 20. Time Speaker Transcript 41:27 Len Biegel I totally agree with you. It is preparation, which includes the coaching and it includes the simulations, but is also is what does your plan look like. Not long ago I was having lunch with a client CEO and we were talking about what does a crisis plan look like today, and I took one out of my pocket, and I said, “This is what your crisis plan needs to look like. It needs to fit in your pocket. Because during a crisis when it really hits, you don’t have time to go thumbing through pages. You need to have all the ready information on the checklist in your pocket.” 42:05 Tom Floyd Back to the topic of Crisis Coaching, just to really understand what that looks like when a crisis coach comes in or what some of the activities are that a crisis coach would do or kind of how that looks, and Larry and Len, this question really is directed at both of you; do you find in those instances, is this one on one coaching to prepare key leaders, executives, other folks, to respond effectively to these situations, or does it also include or is it working more as a facilitator during activities like employee training events and things like that to build general awareness? What does crisis coaching actually look like? What does the engagement itself look like? 42:50 Larry Smith This is Larry. Coaching has to begin with finding a corporate sponsor. Ideally, it would be the CEO, but it is usually not. Someone who is aware of the risks, who is aware of what needs to be done, and will sponsor it. Then managing for a crisis or preparing for a crisis is a team sport. You have got to identify the key people that you have around the people to help you manage a crisis and get them involved both in developing the plan, so it is their plan, they will buy into it and support it, and use it when it is there, and then get them involved in the training. We don’t do many full blown exercises anymore. They are so expensive and take so much time, and it is hard to get companies to devote the time, so we do a lot more tabletop exercises. A real day-long exercise in the field might start at 30,000 dollars and run up to over 100,000 dollars, but we can do a tabletop for a fraction of that, and get people just to start thinking about what they need to do and if we can get them to do that and do that a couple of times a year, then we are way ahead of the game. 20 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 20 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 21. Time Speaker Transcript 44:00 Myra Jolivet I think you guys are right with getting people to think in those terms. 44:03 Tom Floyd Myra? 44:04 Myra Jolivet I’m sorry, this is Myra. I am a member of the International Association of Business Communicators, and IABC has been generating and creating tons of material on crisis communications, in addition to Webinars, which enable businesses to participate in Webinar preparation of crisis communications. Everything from keeping a dark website that has crucial information for your significant public that you can bring up at a moment’s notice, to like you say, something in your pocket. I will take issue with one thing, though, and I don’t know if this is because I am a former newsperson, but I think the news media is a key audience, because I understand you have to get the word to shareholders and all of that, but the things that can happen to a company or organization in a public way via news media can be difficult to recover from if the media is not communicated with in early stages of a crisis or a disaster. 45:02 Larry Smith I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that you ignore the media, but you have got those other audiences that you have to communicate with and you have got to be able to communicate with many of them directly, not through the media. 45:14 Myra Jolivet Oh, I gotcha. 45:15 Larry Smith You have got to be talking to the media all the time, but you have got to figure out who those key audiences are and have a plan and a strategy to communicate directly with them. You don’t want your employees to hear about what you are doing by reading it in the local paper or seeing it on TV, they need to hear it from you first, and it is not always going to happen that way, but that is the goal. 45:33 Myra Jolivet Oh, absolutely. I misunderstood you. Okay. 21 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 21 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 22. Time Speaker Transcript 45:36 Tom Floyd And Myra, can you talk a little bit more about the coaching partnership that the American Red Cross has, you mentioned a little bit about that during our previous break, I just wanted to make sure that we got a chance to highlight that as well. 45:47 Myra Jolivet Sure. One of our major initiatives right now is to get companies to work with us. I don’t know if most people know this. We can prepare companies to run their own shelter, if necessary. Let’s say it is a major earthquake for us, or a major hurricane. A company with our training can run their own shelter and can train employees to also work at a Red Cross shelter, teaching them CPR and first aid, because much of what we provide, as I said earlier, is those initial medical needs in our health and safety program. Right now we have a number of partnerships that are in the beginning stages with city and county government here in the Los Angeles area, but that is something that is being duplicated all over the country with the Red Cross, so when we partner with offices, we do provide that hands-on coaching, and we want more and more companies to take advantage of that. 46:43 Tom Floyd Got it. In terms of the hands-on coaching that is done, just to make sure I am understanding that, that is for a variety of audiences; it is for individuals, it is for companies, it is for various groups. 46:52 Myra Jolivet Yes, various groups and organizations, government, you name it. As I said, our mission is to make sure people are prepared where they are, whether it is at the home, at the office, you name it. Because of the fact that we are a volunteer driven organization, we are ready, because of preparedness, to turn on a dime, and we do it quite well. But the reality is, the more that people are prepared, the less we have to try to cover so much geography with stretched resources, so it is in our interest and the interest of everyone to make sure that we get that education out there, that we get that preparedness, that emergency preparedness, happening all over the communities. 22 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 22 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 23. Time Speaker Transcript 47:38 Tom Floyd Jack, question for you. Are you seeing kind of broad based, as you look out at a lot of different organizations are doing from private to public to non-profit, are you seeing more programs like the program that Myra mentioned that the American Red Cross does, and based on that, the second part of my question is, do you continue to see a need for coaches who really specialize in helping mental health organizations? 48:12 Jack Harrald I think there are definitely more programs out in business, but the issue was raised earlier of having a corporate champion or the leadership function all the way through this is critical, so that you don’t just establish a program and push it down to be a bureaucratic produced plan, because a plan in and of itself does nothing, it is the planning process and the exercising that gets you somewhere. As an example, where do you want to be on the other side of a crisis and what is your standard of care? I think we can mention good examples and we have mentioned some bad examples, but I know Marriott, the hotel chain, has an exemplary program and they decided very early on that their standard of care was to get back up and serving. They have metrics for getting back up in service if anything happened to a hotel. They also took from the aviation legislation that should the worst happen and they lose hotel guests, they would treat victims families the same way that the law required airlines to treat victims families, so they had a standard and they had a dark website on 9/11 that they were able to activate and do some pretty amazing things, but this came from very senior leadership. There are other examples that we have seen where basically you have an administrator who is in charge of producing plans and establishing some documents that sit on a shelf somewhere. That doesn’t do much good to anybody. 23 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 23 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 24. Time Speaker Transcript 49:38 Tom Floyd We have definitely heard loud and clear the theme around sponsorship and it is amazing how much that comes up on our show about coaching in general, that regardless of executive coaching we are talking about or crisis coaching, or generational coaching or what have you, that you really have to have an advocate or advocates, I should say, to really help sponsor it. In terms of really building up if I am a large company or a small company, and trying to build the case for why we need to have the operational plans, the communication plans, the other plans that were mentioned, in terms of getting sponsorship, from all of our perspectives, is the best way to do that to sit down and build a case for it? Is it almost scaring some of the leaders within the companies with what if situations and using data and things like that to kind of help and make them realize they are not prepared for some of these things? What is the best way to get that? 50:36 Jack Harrald This is Jack. I think there are two places where the case needs to be made. One was raised earlier, which is corporate governance and the other is in leading business schools, in most of our leading business schools—we have done surveys— they don’t offer courses for future executives and they don’t get courses in crisis management or how to manage extreme events in their routine education. I think that is a real failing because it is not an issue that one should think of as an executive only when one becomes senior, they should be a part, essentially, of the career path of all executives. 51:16 Tom Floyd Okay. Len, a question for you. How would an organization go about finding a crisis coach like yourself, or like Larry? Where does somebody start? 24 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 24 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 25. Time Speaker Transcript 51:30 Len Biegel This is Len. A great deal of our referrals come from law firms, and we maintain very close ties with a lot of law firms, to just help in that networking, because it is a very important link. The companies for whom we have done effective plans and coaching and response, just become our good friends, and they recommend us. There is no magic to it. But if I could get back to emphasize the surveys too, I am generally an optimistic person, but I am pessimistic on this score. I truly don’t think that we are going to change and close up that gap of preparedness until it becomes a corporate governance issue, because CEOs really are the key to this. It is the leadership. 52:28 Tom Floyd And one of the questions I know that you listed to the research team that I loved, that I wanted to make sure to ask, because you just mentioned the CEO group themselves, if you could list the three most important crisis preparedness factors that a CEO should remember, what would those three factors be? 52:45 Len Biegel Interesting. The CEO of a very large corporation asked me that not long ago. He put me on the spot. I said the three things—whoever is responsible in the corporation for crisis preparedness should report directly to you, not through any filters. I said number two; you need to have a commitment to coaching and practice. And number three, keep the plans short. He nodded his head, sort of agreed, I think. Those are the three key points that I believe. 53:26 Tom Floyd They certainly sound simple enough and doable, too. W e have got about a minute left. Larry, anything that you would add to that? What are the top three things that a CEO should keep in mind? 25 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 25 Crisis Coaching Transcript
  • 26. Time Speaker Transcript 53:37 Larry Smith The CEO should keep in mind that he has got to or she has got to have a plan, a three-pronged plan, one that is going to deal with the operational issues, one that is going to deal with the communications, and one that is going to get them back in operation, whether it is in 72 hours or in the next few weeks. He has got to identify key players in his management team that he can trust and that he is willing to delegate authority to, to act and be able to walk into his office during the course of managing that office and say, “Boss, here is what the team says we ought to do, please sign off on it or give us a better idea.” If that CEO or president of the organization or owner is willing to do that, they are going to find their life is going to be a whole lot easier and they are going to get through those things a whole lot quicker and a whole lot better. 54:30 Tom Floyd Huge, huge, huge thank you to the four of you for joining us today. And as always, a big thank you to our listeners as well. For more information about our show, of course you can look us up on the Voice of America Business Channel, and you can visit our website at www.ieconsulting.biz and you can always feel free to email me at tfloyd@ieconsulting.biz as well. And don’t forget, you can download the podcast version of our show through Apple iTunes. Just open up iTunes, go to the iTunes store, click podcast, and enter “insight on coaching” in the Search field. Thanks everyone, we’ll see you next week. 26 | Confidential May 19, 2008 Page 26 Crisis Coaching Transcript