Maintain continuous communication: While working to correct the situation, managers on the PET team were also responding simultaneously to instant messages and emails from site operators. Never did the PET team stop responding to the users' requests even though at times it seemed like nothing was moving forward. In parallel, executives were kept informed by way of progress reports issued during the day.
No blaming: According to Simon, "We don't typically have a blame culture. When things are going wrong, that is definitely not acceptable culture." People are held accountable for their mistakes but there is no finger pointing during the crisis. Post-mortems and root-cause analysis only occur once the incident has been resolved and the business is back to normal.
Keep a smile: Good humor and laughing was present at all times. Even in the thick of things, someone was always willing to crack a joke and get a chuckle from all the participants. None of the jokes were at the expense of other people.
Experience helps: People on the calls had been around long enough to know that it takes time to resolve issues. Although there was pressure to resolve the issue, there were no threats or calls for it to be resolved by a specific date or time.
Get outside help: In the end, the person that resolved the issue was not intimately familiar with the system. It allowed him to look at things from a different perspective and eventually find the cause and provide a cure. Sometimes you just need an external point of view to see what the real problem is.
The biggest benefit from crises can be the personal satisfaction of a job well done. For some members of the PET team, there was a feeling that a thorny issue had finally been resolved. For others, it was a change of pace from the usual, sometimes boring, administrative tasks. It was a chance to pull together as a team and face a challenge. Simon states, "If you talk to most of the guys involved, they probably enjoyed part of it. They didn't enjoy the inconvenience of missing out on other things. But did they actually enjoy the process? Yeah."
As for the late nights, and the early mornings spent on the phone trying to get the business back on its feet, Simon laughs about it: "As I always say, I'll sleep when I'm dead."
Laurent Duperval is the president of Duperval Consulting which helps individuals and companies improve people-focused communication processes. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 514-902-0186.