On April 20, 2010 BP became the face of one of the most devastating environmental disasters since Hurricane Katrina. Various people and organizations have been quick to point out BP’s failures, but what have businesses been able to learn from the situation?
1. Poor leadership affects more than the company– Company’s become their product and consumers tend to view companies through their actions. Executives lead their customers as well as their staff; their decisions affect everybody their company comes in contact with. As a company you are your decisions so you must decide what is more important, the product or the profit. BP cut corners because profit is important in business; we owe them a thank you. Thank you for reminding us that quality is the most important service we can bring to our customers.
2. Honesty is more than just PR- BP has been extraordinarily honest about the spill, how it happened and why what they are trying isn’t working. I think that there is lesson to take from this strategy. Your customers want to know what’s going on; by being honest you can give information on the situation and tell your side of the story. You control the spin and in business, that’s a desirable situation.
3. Disaster Planning is something every business, regardless of industry, should do-Every business has valuable information to guard, whether it’s client information or intellectual property. The beginning of a good disaster plan should have these elements:
· Alternate location of client information and company files that can be accessed remotely.
· A plan of action for uncontrollable external influences. If it can happen to your company, you should plan for it.
· Clear understanding of who is in charge and how to contact that point person in the event of an emergency.
· Companywide exercises to prepare your staff. Drills are a great way to practice what should happen if something terrible happens.
· In order to protect their information, companies have to be vigilant in disaster planning and safeguarding information.
4. Cutting corners creates more work in the long run- The decision to skirt safety issues has created more work for BP and its leadership team. Instead of dealing with the safety issues, BP has had to deal with an ecological disaster. Is there an issue in your business that you have been avoiding, hoping it will go away? Deal with it, before it snowballs into something too large to handle.
As a business owner every situation is an opportunity to learn something about your customer, your industry and you. The best part about heading a company is controlling where it goes. Every challenge you face will teach you something valuable, just like BP.