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In This Issue
Want the Boss to Participate, to Behave During Crisis? Have a Plan
The Dark Art of Laying People Off
A Crisis Management Case Study
Watch Your Language
Making Up the News
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Executive Action
Strategic Management Insights for Leaders, 
Decision Makers, and Their Trusted Advisors
January 14, 2009
Number 3
Note to Readers
Hope you are finding Executive Action helpful.  In this edition we add two more features that you will see from time to time.
New feature in this issue:  Watch Your Language
We'll take a quote from a newspaper, publication, or speech and translate it into what should have been said.  The very interesting first feature deals with a spokesperson talking about the Rhino, a utility terrain vehicle (UTV) manufactured by Yamaha, which is coming under fire for the accidents and injuries associated with their use.
New feature in this issue:  Making Up the News
It's always fascinating to see how media forgive themselves for using anonymous sources.  In this occasional feature, I'll drop in some of my favorite current excuses.  This edition shows three from The New York Times, which probably runs more anonymous quotes than any other publication on the planet.  When you read or hear these phrases, you always know that the media are starting to make something up:  "Some people say . . .  ,"  "It has been alleged . . .  ," "Critics claim . . .  ," "Many are complaining that . . .  ," and "Sources tell us that . . .  "  These phrases always translate into "I had to make this up to make my story work."  If you find a great excuse for an anonymous quote, I'd love to see it.  Please send it to me at

Our Readership Usefulness Test 
I'm always interested in what you learn from these efforts, if anything.  Wasting your time is the last thing I want to do.  There's a two question test I use on material I'm hearing, reading, or viewing, and you might find it useful for yourself.  With respect to this eNewsletter.
  1. What do I know now that I didn't know before I read, heard, or viewed this edition?
  2. What is the most important idea, concept, suggestion, or question this issue raised for me?
You may always reach me at  When you do, I will send something interesting in return.
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One favor, if this eNewsletter is helpful, please recommend it to others who might benefit.
As always, your comments, questions, suggestions, debate, disagreements, and challenges are welcome.

P.S.  My new Crisis Guru Blog is now live.  Please tune in there as well for additional commentary and information.

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James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA
Want the Boss to Participate, to Behave During Crisis?  Have a Plan 
What the Boss Really Should Do in a Crisis 
When it comes to readiness and crisis response preparation, there must be more complaining about bosses being burdens and barriers than any other topic.  There are two principal reasons for this complaining and whining.  First, it is true.  A large number of bosses actively avoid participating in disaster, crisis, and business recovery exercises.  Those who put these exercises on tend to take this approach by organizational leadership as a personal insult.  If you stand back for a moment and think about how most drills and exercises are conducted, their very nature is contrary to how operating executives learn, teach, and live, and how they measure their own success and need to succeed.
Click here to read Casting Your Crisis Plan:  Five Roles You Cannot Leave Unassigned in Your Crisis Plan.
Special Note:  Does this scenario fit your situation?  Let Jim Lukaszewski assess your plan's role for senior leaders.  He can help you develop an important and constructive role for organizational leadership during various crisis scenarios.  Tone matters.  Jim Lukaszewski can show you how to assist management in setting the tone of any crisis response.
The Dark Art of Laying People Off
The phone rings.The individual on the other end of the phone, whom I have probably never met, says something complimentary about my reputation in crisis and then asks if I could share some of the "best practices" in shutdowns, layoffs, or other drastic moves that will affect lots and lots of people in incredibly negative ways.  My reaction is pretty much always the same.  It begins with a question . . .  How do you take someone's job, livelihood, or future away well?
The question should be, "How humane can we be?"  There are patterns of behavior-on the part of those who must make the cuts as well as those who must take the cuts-that are worth reflecting on and planning for if cut, reduce, downsize or capsize you must.
Click here to read more about The Dark Art of Laying People Off

Special Note:  Does this scenario fit your situation?  Let Jim Lukaszewski walk you through the typical issues faced in doing layoffs and illustrate where the stumbling, fumbling, mumbling, and bumbling occurs, perhaps even in your organization.  He can help adjust management's attitude, and coach and train supervisors to take much of the sting, pain, and agony out of this often and all too necessary process. 

A Crisis Management Case Study:
The BurgerMax Case 
A Study in Failing to Protect and Enhance Corporate Trust and in Prolonging the Agony of Victims
The first seven-year old child arrived in the emergency room just after 1:15 p.m.  Before the end of the day, there were an average of 40 sick children and adults at each of the city's major hospitals.  It became quickly apparent that the patients all had one thing in common; they had all eaten at BurgerMax that day.  The tragedy was just beginning to unfold . . . .
This case study ties together the crucial elements of any crisis situation:  the creation of victims and the stumble, fumble, mumble, bumble response of a management team that should know better, played against the ethical, moral, and integrity questions that are always at work in these scenarios.
Click here
to read more about the BurgerMax Case. 

Special Note:  Does this scenario fit your situation?  Call Jim Lukaszewski to help you with your scenario development.  Two of the key services he provides are after-action analysis and lessons learned discussions.
Top of Page
WatchYourLanguageWatch Your Language
U.S. Probes Off-Road Vehicles After a String of Accidents
The Wall Street Journal Article
Published November 4, 2008
In the midst of this ongoing government investigation, Roy Watson, general manager of legal for Yamaha Motor Corp. USA, a unit of Japan's Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd., is quoted on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.
They Said
"If you operate it carefully and use some common sense and good judgment, it's a really great product."
They Meant
"It's the customers' fault.  If customers would just read the manual and then operate the vehicle accordingly, there would be safer handling overall.  The customer is really to blame for these accidents.  They're always pushing the equipment beyond its intended design capacity and capability.  If you use any vehicle stupidly, bad things will happen.  Customers need to pay more attention to owner's manuals and the instructions we provide at the dealership."
They Should Have Said
"We are deeply concerned about any accident that happens with our vehicles.  We are fully engaged with the safe customer use of these vehicles.
We require each customer to spend 15 to 20 minutes being oriented to the vehicle and its features, the experience itself, and operating risks.  We are, in fact, adding new safety features and expanding our customer safety coaching activities.
We support reasonable and helpful local regulation and oversight of our industry and the products we develop in the interest of public safety and confidence."
MakingUpTheNewsMaking Up the News
Headline:  Resistance to Kennedy Is Growing Among Democrats
Quote:  "'Oh yeah, it's a done deal,' said one of the advisers, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the selection process and did not want to anger the governor."
Source:  The New York Times, 12/24/08, A17
Headline:  Boeing Jetliner Faces Another Delay
Quote:  "Boeing said it would neither confirm nor deny a setback, which was reported on Friday in The Wall Street Journal.  But the senior airline executives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for Boeing, confirmed the delay."
Source:  The New York Times, 12/6/08, B8
Headline:  Much Talk of Cuomo for Clinton's Seat, but Who's Talking
Quote:  "One adviser, who was granted anonymity to speak freely about internal discussions involving the Senate seat, said of Mr. Cuomo, 'He is not being helpful.'"
Source:  The New York Times, 11/27/08, A31.
Jim's Critical Management Book Reading Recommendations
MaryParkerFollettMary Parker Follett:
Prophet of ManagementMary Parker Follett:  Prophet of Management
Edited By Pauline Graham
Beard Books
(January 1995)
Her business knowledge is superb and many of her comments, of course, precede Peter Drucker. 
OnceAnEagleOnce an EagleOnce an Eagle
By Anton Myrer
(April 3, 2001) 
An inspiring novel of leadership,
courage, and self-sacrifice.
President Lincoln:  The Duty of a Statesman
 President Lincoln:  The Duty of a Statesman
By William Lee Miller
(January 6, 2009)
A definitive preview of how presidents learn on the job, including Lincoln's serious first-day mistakes that contributed to the start of the Civil War.  Perhaps this is a preview of the Obama administration, as well.