Waiting to pickup the kids from school, I tuned in to “Soundcheck” on XM Public Radio and listened to musician, neuroscientist and bestselling author, Daniel Levitin, talking about the importance of practice. Levitin, who wrote the fascinating book, The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature (amazon affiliate link), asked the question: Why does a basketball team practice rebounds? Answer: Because they know most shots on net will not go in, and they want to benefit from their mistakes.
Great analogy, which made me think: Why do football players practice getting up quickly? Answer: Because they know how often they get knocked down. Or, why do professional soldiers deliberately practice “the fog of war,” the level of ambiguity in various military situations? Because mistakes reveal weakness, flaws, and imperfection, which can then be identified, understood, and, ultimately, avoided.
Do you practice mistakes?
I recently spoke at Chris Brogan’s New Marketing Lab’s Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston and asked for a show of hands from anyone in the audience with a current crisis or emergency plan in place for their company. Out of a packed house, only five or six people raised their hands. I wasn’t surprised because over the last 20 years advising leading international companies and organizations on crisis, fewer than 20% have an active, updated, and ready-to-go crisis plan today. Viewed differently, 80% of all major businesses and organizations are not prepared for a crisis today. Are you?
Do you have a crisis plan?
Do you have any contingency planning for a worst case scenario? Who will you call first in a crisis? And in the event of a crisis, do people know to call you? Have you identified the top 10 possible crisis scenarios in your business? Do you have a written moral and/or ethics code for your team? Is a crisis leadership team in place, and who will speak to the media on your behalf? Do you know the 10 most common mistakes in your industry? Can you identify the one or two weaknesses or imperfections that could derail your efforts?
You also want to have a crisis plan for your home, relationships, finances and reputation. Is your home and family prepared for an act of nature, or some other crisis? Are your computer files backed up? Do you have a will? Do you know what people are saying about you on the internet? Do you understand your company’s reputational risks?
Crisis prep is not easy on several levels. Human nature makes it hard to consider the possibility of our demise, or an event or action that could result in something terrible. Yet just by recognizing a possible future event, and putting actions in place on how to avoid it today, dramatically reduces or removes the risk of that situation ever happening. Further, spending time and money on crisis preparation takes away from strained budgets and people resources today, requiring very specific deliverables and forward-thinking leadership.
Someone did an extensive survey a couple of years ago asking business leaders what keeps them up at night. Was it people issues? Finances? The competition? Nope. By an overwhelming majority, leaders are kept awake by the fear of an unforeseen crisis or reputational event.
Don’t be ashamed or fear your mistakes, practice them.
Are you ready for a crisis?