Code Red in the Boardroom
Crisis Management as Organizational DNA
by W. Timothy Coombs
March 2006, 152pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-98912-5
$64, £48, 54€, A92
eBook Available: 978-0-313-05947-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Why every organization must hardwire crisis management into its corporate DNA—and how to do it successfully

Even several years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many organizations are ill-prepared to deal with crises, often opting to deal with them only after the fact. In Code Red in the Boardroom, Tim Coombs argues that crisis management should be a variety of activities that the organization performs daily to prevent crises from occurring. He defines the types of crises an organization might experience (both internal and external), draws from a wide variety of case examples, and showcases cutting-edge techniques that are being tested in the public and private sectors to demonstrate how crisis management can be hardwired into the corporate DNA, so that sensing, preventing, and responding quickly to crises become everyone’s responsibility. In the process, he explores evolving roles for executives, managers, and front-line employees in communicating and implementing crisis plans. Ultimately, the book shows readers how proactive crisis management makes the company stronger, more resilient, and adaptable to change. A glossary of key terms and templates for establishing a crisis management program make this book an essential resource for all organizations.

Even several years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many organizations delude themselves about crisis management. Some enterprises, especially smaller ones, still believe that a crisis cannot happen to them. Others have gone through the steps of creating a crisis management plan, but really pay no more than lip service to the program, and may, in fact, be creating a false sense of security that leaves the company even more vulnerable to attack, accident, crime, or other sources of crisis. Tim Coombs argues that crisis management should not just be something you do when a crisis hits. It should be a variety of activities that the organization performs daily to prevent crises from ocurring.

In Code Red in the Boardroom, Coombs defines the types of crises an organization might experience (both internal and external), draws from a wide variety of case examples, and showcases cutting-edge techniques that are being tested in the public and private sectors to demonstrate how crisis management can be hardwired into the corporate DNA—so that sensing, preventing, and responding quickly to crises become everyone’s responsibility. In the process, he explores evolving roles for executives, managers, and front-line employees in communicating and implementing crisis plans. Ultimately, the book shows readers how proactive crisis management makes the company stronger, more resilient, and adaptable to change. A glossary of key terms and templates for establishing a crisis management program make this book an essential resource for all organizations.

Reviews

"This compact, clearly written, and well-documented primer is especially useful for those undertaking crisis planning for the first time, particularly small organizations, including nonprofits that do not maintain in-house legal and public relations experts. While large, experienced organizations can certainly benefit from the author's emphasis on integrating crisis management into the organizational DNA, the expository style and the case studies make it particularly helpful for novice crisis planners. In part 1 Coombs examines major crisis types: attacks on organizations, such as computer hacking or product tampering; product defects or other organizational failures, such as industrial accidents; and organizational wrongdoing in the form of financial fraud (e.g., Tyco, Enron) or failure to obey or enforce government regulations. Part 2 focuses on crisis management tools: maintaining a crisis-sensing network and a living crisis management plan; overcoming resistance to change; and integrating crisis management into the organization's culture--or organizational DNA, as Coombs calls it. This part includes practical guidelines, based on organizational change literature and sound communication practices. The book ends with two appendixes: the elements of a sample crisis management plan and a US Department of Homeland Security fact sheet for crisis planning. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate through professional collections."—Choice, September 1, 2006

"Many corporations operate under the rather na<:i>ve assumption that until something terrible happens, and someone in charge declares it to be a crisis, no one needs to use the word, much less think about it. Coombs advocates building crisis management into the daily life of an organization with the goal of preventing as many crises as possible and lessening the impact of those that cannot be foreseen. He describes the types of crises organizations are most likely to encounter, including attacks from without and misbehavior from within, the features of a crisis-sensing network, the benefits of a crisis management plan that serves as a living document, and methods to ensure crisis management is part of the daily corporate culture. Coombs is unflinching in his case studies, describing such crises as product liability, misconduct and boycott, and provides helpful recording instruments and strategy checklists."—Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2006
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