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The Story Behind the Book

My original plan for this book was simply to update crisis practices, a target I estimated would take about two years. That was nearly six years ago. It was soon clear that pivots were sorely needed, but their nature and practical adaptations were far less obvious. If you doubt the potency of that need, consider the confusion and ambiguity that still characterize many organizations’ struggles to handle the pandemic.

 

If your organization has been affected by Covid, or another crisis or near miss recently, you are probably aware of striking differences in crisis impacts today. There is nowhere left to hide. Privacy for organizations and leaders is evaporating. The grace period that once existed between insider knowledge and public awareness has shriveled from days or weeks, to minutes. At the core of dealing with these changes is reconciliation from managing crises from the very top, to embracing crises organization-wide, and that is the thrust of this book.

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About the Book
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About Christine

Christine M. Pearson, Ph.D., has built a global reputation as an expert on leading through the dark aspects at work. An architect of the field of organizational crisis management, for more than three decades, she has guided leaders at all levels in corporations, non-profits, and government entities across five continents to plan for, respond, learn from, and appreciate the extraordinary impacts of crises. She is an award-winning Professor of Global Leadership at the Thunderbird School of Global Management (at ASU), whose research has been featured in practical outlets such as, Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, and Conference Board Review, and in more than 600 newspapers and magazines. Come Out Stronger is her sixth book.

My Original 'Why?'

Excerpt from: Introduction, page xiii:

My earliest memory of an organizational crisis is the crash of a 40-passenger commercial airplane, at a small regional airport in Kentucky that had no control tower, nor fire or rescue workers stationed at the field. After striking the ground, the plane rolled to inverted position and then slid several hundred feet until it stopped beside the runway, facing backwards. The engine nose and propeller were torn from the right wing, which later sheared off at the fuselage. The left wing also tore off, and the tail was demolished. The plane was destroyed. The human toll was inconceivable: no one was injured.

On the ground, the sole airline employee on duty was the station manager, my dad, who also fulfilled the roles of first responder/radio operator/weatherman and, eventually, eye witness during the Federal investigation of the crash. I remember him describing how eerie it was to walk on the ceiling of the fuselage, seat belts dangling from above, and how astounded and grateful he was that everyone on board had adapted to the terrifying situation so adeptly.

As dad's career advanced, his responsibilities deepened regarding crisis preparation and respone. Even as a child, I recognized the courage dealing with worst-case circumstances, days and nights at aircraft accident scenes, absorbed by care and retrieval of injured and deceased passengers and crew, their loved ones, and the other responders. As a graduate student, helping keep organizations and their stakeholders safe became a core goal for me.

Continued in Introduction of Come Out Stronger

About the Author

Content from Come Out Stronger

Below is a small excerpt from the Prologue involving the perspectives of your organization's current view of crisis:

When it comes to preparing for crises, many organizations do very little. This leaves them dangerously vulnerable, and puts their environments at risk...This concise summary of crisis priorities is based on urgency and vital needs under three conditions that typically motivate crisis improvements:

1) Wolves are at your gate.

2) Danger signs are emerging.

3) You want a solid preventive, protective foundation.

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You Want a Solid Protective Foundation

Setting: No organizational crisis looms that you know of, but you want to improve lead time and preparation to optimize decisions and actions under threatening circumstances.

Strategy: Determine how to make crisis investments manageable and fitting for your organization. Develop a foundation of powerful champions to create a systemic crisis approach over time. Prioritize objectives relative to your organization’s core values. Aim to eventually inform, engage and direct all employees.

 

Action Checklist:

• First, build your own crisis expertise and skills. Learn typical crisis threats, and effective practices in your industry. Broaden your understanding of how crisis norms and preparations differ among your organization’s locations. Deepen your grasp of your organization’s current crisis readiness. Think about capabilities and gaps, resources and scarcities across hierarchical levels and functions, at headquarters, nationally, and overseas (Chapters 2-10).

• Identify alignments between your organization’s core values and its crisis readiness. Reflect about your organization’s strengths and weaknesses in crisis preparation, resources, and expertise, especially as related to your core values (Chapter 3).

• Recruit influential support. Engage employees who have crisis expertise, experience, and power to create a superb Crisis Leadership Team (CLT) (Chapters 4, 7).

• Draft an initial scope of priorities for your organization.Work with the champions, including CLT members, to begin mapping your plans (Chapter 5).

• Read Come Out Stronger. Learn crisis preparation and response fundamentals, including the following: Create and develop a superb CLT. Map your plans, and take them on a test drive. Power up your crisis readiness. Make signal detection and reporting a core technology. Develop and practice your crisis procedures. Establish avenues for ongoing input and feedback to shape and sharpen your crisis expertise and agility, creating a learning cycle that will strengthen your corporate culture and stakeholder relationships

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