Business Columns & Blogs

If you don’t pull back the curtain, someone else will


What if Uber created a webpage devoted to transparently updating the public about being investigated by the FBI and sharing what Uber is doing to make right past misdeeds? What if Equifax set up a site with current updates the moment investigators reportedly learned that its breach was significant back in July, sharing what it’s doing to secure personally identifiable information?

Play out this scenario in your head: When someone you depend on makes a mistake, do you trust that person more when she/he brings the mistake to your attention quickly or do you prefer to find out on your own much later? The former, I’m sure.

In this day of digital information, misdeeds and mistakes will see the light of day. People will find out. The question is how, and the impact of that on trust and confidence is monumental.

Here are a few straightforward ideas to create a crisis response plan for your company and ensure you grow trust in the face of a difficult (and sometimes disastrous) situation.

War game the potential crises. What “bad things” could happen? Could someone steal your customer and employee information, either physically taking files or hacking into a computer?

What happens if an employee mistakenly or intentionally breaks the law or in some way creates harm? Let your creativity go wild to create the list.

Now apply a three-step process of quickly acting in the face of potential crises you could face.

1) Respond: What is the initial response? If it’s a breach, how do you lock down and secure the hardware, software and data? If a law is broken, how do you open the door to law enforcement and/or regulatory authorities?

2) Repair: Fix what needs fixing. If you’ve suffered a data breach, fully inform every affected person, even if it’s remotely. If a law is broken, come clean and change the system or remove those who created damage.

3) Prevent: Put systems and processes in place to prevent the crisis from happening again.

Through all of the above, keep the process transparent. Document and communicate all the facts because facts remove speculation, provide stability and build trust.

Human nature wants to hide mistakes and misdeeds. Doing the opposite by being transparent requires intense, intentional planning and work. In these bad situations, transparency leads to trust. Isn’t regaining trust the ultimate goal?

Dale Dixon is chief innovation officer of the Better Business Bureau Northwest. 342-4649,