“I want my life back”

Tony Hayward – BP CEO June 2010

An intelligent man, who under pressure said the wrong thing in a crisis which had the result of causing a total collapse in the share price.  It was ages before the Chairman was visible or the right voice was provided for the audience.

Today’s media is instant, whether you are Tony Haywood, BP CEO or Captain Sullenberger pilot of Flight US1549.

It is critically important to train Directors and Management to face the media or key stakeholders that may not be very sympathetic at that moment.  This requires role play training by experts in the field to understand how to face the questions, choose your words and control your body language.

This became very apparent to me recently when on an IoD course, Developing Board Performance, where three days of role play prepared directors to handle many issues in the Board room.  The last day was role play of a crisis and the need to face the media.  Not one member in the class tasked with this responsibility could carry out the interview competently even after becoming comfortable with role play in the previous days. 

An interesting article “Preparing the Board for a Crisis” covers some key points, most importantly the importance of being prepared in advance.  The article does state that this is an area of risk management that is not well addressed by Boards.

Genius Methods experience confirms this observation – a common question, to seeing this section on a Board Evaluation, being “this has not been on a Board Evaluation before, why is it here now”.  The market has changed and crisis management is a reality and role play to prepare are what Boards should be giving serious attention to.