Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Just the Facts 

The hardest damn thing to get in a crisis is a fact. One could dig a gold mine in less time than it takes to dig pertinent data from a file drawer. And yet, one is hampered fatally until facts are in hand and one can prove that an organization has not acted irresponsibly.

I have watched a client get bashed for a week and a half because the facts were missing for a critical situation, and the people who have them are never around, it seems, or they don't remember or something. Whatever the case is, we didn't until today have facts we need.

In a grueling exercise this afternoon, we collected essential facts about a process that has been the target of criticism. The client has done a fine job with the process but a person criticizing the client in public apparently doesn't know that. We need to get facts out there to media who are listening to the person and are unaware there might be another side to the story. But it has taken SO long to assemble the facts and even today, we couldn't get all of them straight. There was still a flurry of phone calls to find out if A was true and if B was false.

I don't know how one resolves situations like this but there ought to be machinery in place in all companies for sensitive parts of a business through which key facts are digested and stored in a central location for quick retrieval. I hope in time we can get that done. It would save everyone's nerves -- and temper.


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