Is your company ready to face a crisis?                           

Recently I shared an article with my CEO Communication clients about lessons they can learn from the Maggi India crisis. Below is my own take on what CEOs can learn from the Maggi noodles crisis in India.

What Maggi did right in handling the crisis

1. Move former Nestle India Head Etienne Benet to head office in Switzerland. He mishandled the crisis. (Some critics may view this as too little too late. However I believe it is "better late than never"!)

2. Appoint Indian native Suresh Narayanan to handle the crisis. He is from India. As an Indian native, he is better able to build bridges that were burnt by Benet.


What Maggi did wrong in handling the crisis

Entered into a confrontation with the Government of India food regulatory agencies. This is a sure recipe to turn any disaster into a mega disaster: recall how BP CEO at the time Tony Hayward mishandled the Deep Water Horizon oil spill by stonewalling a Congressional hearing and denying responsibility for the accident.

What Maggi could have done better

1. Maintained constant contact with the Government of India food regulatory agencies, so that the issue could have been dealt with as partners - not as opponents.

2. Maintained and constantly cultivated contacts with the Indian media, so that Nestle could have partnered the media in getting the company viewpoint out.

3. Constantly checked their food to ensure compliance with Indian food safety standards. Eternal vigilance is what is called for, not a cocky attitude that you are a wealthy MNC operating in a Third World country.

4. Be prepared to face a crisis - without waiting until one occurs.

Hopefully, the Maggi India crisis will act as a catalyst for you, as a CEO, to get your act together before a crisis consumes you. For, as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure!

About the Writer

Yukthi K. Gunasekera is a communications professional with over 10 years of experience in corporate communication. He counts a combined total of 14 years of management experience as Channels Manager at IBM Sri Lanka and as Head of Corporate Communications at John Keells Holdings PLC. Yukthi is a US-educated lawyer who also holds a post-graduate diploma in marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK. He is currently a corporate trainer, coach, MC, and TV host and runs his own firm YKG Associates – which teaches communication skills to employees ranging from junior executives to leaders of organisations. He specialises in CEO Communication – how leaders of organisations can use effective communication tools to better achieve organisational goals. Yukthi firmly believes that training in communication skills enables people to lead more rewarding lives.

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