It’s often said, albeit somewhat spuriously, that when written in Chinese the word ‘crisis’ is made up of two characters, one representing danger and the other representing opportunity.
Whether that’s strictly true or not, it raises an interesting question in relation to our crisis management planning. The question is, when faced with some kind of crisis, rather than just focussing on the negative aspects, should we also be looking for any positive opportunities that we might be able to take advantage of?
For instance, whilst the thought of talking to the media in a crisis may be seen by some as difficult and dangerous, there’s potentially a huge opportunity to gain some positive PR (or, at the very least, to avoid some negative PR). Indeed, a number of organisations have done so to great effect when dealing with their own crises.
There may well be other opportunities too. Such as opportunities to restructure parts of the organisation, discontinue unprofitable elements of the business, move to new premises, implement improvements to the infrastructure, identify and reward talent and commitment, change our processes, demonstrate good leadership…or whatever.
The point is that, whilst there will undoubtedly be some difficult and possibly dangerous aspects to dealing with a crisis, there will almost certainly be some positive opportunities there too.
So, whether or not we believe the above interpretation of the Chinese characters for crisis, the least we should do is to look for the opportunities. Because if we don’t look we’re unlikely to find them, in which case we’re even less likely to benefit from them.
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