MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHORS
month we conclude our 17-part Leadership Dim Sum series
by discussing how to survive The Big Mistake.
Often impossible to avoid, these dreaded situations
call for quick action.
We hope that you have found value in these Leadership
Dim Sum articles. Figuring out how trusted leaders at
the top can do their work could go on and on. The problems
at the top simply don’t end. Situations evolve.
Customers, markets, and technologies change. The randomness
of human activity never ceases. Maybe that’s what
makes life exciting.
Part of the success in building trust at the top is
the recognition that we don’t have as much control
over our existence as we might like.
Next month we start a new series of articles called
Building Trust on the Way In.
-Rob and Anne-
Virtual Inner Circle
a Leader is Sick
month's issue: What if you flub it?
Harvard Business Review case study: Succession
and Failure, co-authored by Rob Galford. Available
DIM SUM, PART XVII: SURVIVING THE BIG MISTAKE
makes a product or a market bet that backfires. It has over-invested
in a particular manufacturing technology, for example. Profitability
is erased; the action has resulted in a severe crimp in the
company’s ability to compete, at least in the short-
to think about: How can a leadership group handle a collective
mistake in judgment that has affected the confidence of the
entire organization in their ability to run the company? What
kind of mea culpa or disclosure should take place to the organization
at large? How should it be phrased or communicated?
In this type
of situation, trust will erode – on all sorts of fronts
– very quickly. So the speed of your response is critical.
up the inner circle by figuring out what the response should
look like, who should frame it, and who should deliver it.
Then emphasize the critical importance of taking the next
step. It brings to mind one of the lasting lessons from Apollo
13’s near disaster: Don’t dwell on what’s
wrong; figure out what’s right and move forward.
Later that same day, talk to the organization at large. Again,
emphasize the future.
that the team made a mistake. While you can’t necessarily
guarantee that mistakes won’t happen again, it is indeed
possible to reassure people that you are doing your best to
take the appropriate remedial steps in this particular case
and to establish a means of avoiding these types of errors
in the future.
Keep in mind
that line popularized by Eldridge Cleaver, “If you’re
not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
How about you? How has your organization
handled a big mistake? What worked and didn't work? Let
forward this newsletter to your colleagues and friends who
are interested in organizational and leadership issues. Your
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