Promises Made, Promises Not Kept

I’m sitting in the waiting room of a major oil change shop.  That’s not special, but the reason WHY I‘m in this one is.  I normally go to a different oil change shop but today when I arrived there shortly after 8:00 am, there was no one there.  Now […]

Murphy is always present and waiting

Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

The updated quality management standard, ISO 9001:2015, is causing a big stir in the quality profession because it requires risk-based thinking. This is really nothing new because risk-based thinking has always been required in any practical operation. There is little […]

Small Changes – Big Results – Much Later

(We are going to look at a particular problem today as an example of how problems are usually solved. We could have chosen any number of problems but this one is something that everyone can relate to.)

What’s more important? Eliminating a wall covered with graffiti or preventing a murder? […]

Learning from Experience

Oscar Wilde was reported to have said, “Second marriages are proof of hope over experience.”  Peter Senge speaks of the illusion of learning from experience.  But so much of our education system and training is based on providing experience in order to facilitate learning.  So we must learn from […]

A Recipe for Boiled Frog

You likely have heard the parable of the boiled frog – if you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out.  If you put the frog in cold water and gradually heat the water to boiling, you will cook the frog.  It’s a metaphor for the need […]

Is it a crisis?

One of my favorite episodes of the original Star Trek is The Trouble with Tribbles.  There are Klingons, grain to be guarded and government bureaucrats which get all the attention but in the end it is tribbles which created the crisis.  It’s a great example of the frogs type […]

5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Let Others Help

I once had a client I’ll call Joe – whose business consisted of scanning a lot of documents and compiling them on DVDs. Joe, being a small business owner, used his own scanner – a single-page-at-a-time scanner – which required eight or more hours per job. I […]

The Dirty Truth: Why Leadership is a Problem-Solving Handicap

Years ago, my husband Cameron was a lowly Private First Class going through his initial military training. He’d spent two years going from training school to training school, staying at the same rank the whole time. After more than two years in the military, he was still a PFC […]

Four Simple Questions Can Make You A Crisis-Detecting Machine

Most crises are of the frog variety rather than the Godzilla. They’re small issues that only become a crisis because no one was paying attention or because you waited too long to correct the situation. They happen because we’re human, and we’re prone to rationalizing, avoiding, and putting a […]

Red Pens and Submarines: When Prevention is Worse than the Problem

One of the most powerful lessons I learned began one day in 1988 when I got a call to see the Deputy Director of a shipbuilding project management office. His opening statement summed up everything: “Hutch, the Captain is getting his ass chewed by SP over at Kings Bay.  I […]

Black Holes and Consequences: The Physics of Crisis Management

A black hole will swallow everything that gets too close to it – including light. The area around the center of the black hole where something disappears is called the event horizon. It’s the black part of the black hole – there’s stuff there, but you can’t see any […]

Rotten Fish: How What’s “Normal” May Be Holding You Back

I heard a story long ago about the gauchos in Argentina – South American cowboys. Being good Catholics they wanted fish to eat on Fridays. But there were no ready sources of fish where they lived – so local merchants ordered fish to be ship by rail and sold […]

Slow and Silent and Secondary: The Most Dangerous Crisis of All

photo credit here

Over the weekend, I talked about how mismanaging communication during an initial crisis can trigger an immediate second crisis – the kind that causes angry, confused customers to hit you with a landslide of complaints in a short time period.  These are called secondary crises – ones […]