Richard Sambrook - The World at Large

Managing a many layered crisis

What happens when your firm’s operations are hit by not one physical disaster but three in quick succession? And the CEO is on the other side of the world, far removed from the centre of operations? This interview with Howard Stringer of Sony looks at how he responded when Sony’s Japanese production facilities were hit by first the earthquake, then the Tsunami and then the threat of a radiation leak. And he was in the US having an opearation on his back.

Points to note: clear division of responsiblities with a corporate level co-ordinating function allowed swift response, management of the local crisis, the medium and longer term impacts effectively and in parallel; a separate focus on business needs and local human needs of the workforce; organising local workforce and mangement in teams and shifts to manage stress and fatigue – all hands on deck is fine for 24 hours, but can’t be sustained for longer.

Sony emerged in good shape amidst the extraordinary destruction. This was in part down to  luck – but also thanks to clear strong leadership.

About the author

Richard Sambrook is Global Vice Chairman and Chief Content Officer for Edelman. Before joining Edelman, Richard worked in the BBC when he ran BBC Sport, BBC News and finally the BBC’s Global News Division.