Code Blue

December 07, 2006

Code Blue

The Harvard Business Review had an interesting article on Facing Ambiguous Threats in its November 2006 issue. Due to our recent research on reputation recovery, I am particularly interested in identifying threats before they overturn reputations. Many companies experience early warning signs or pre-cautionary signals before threats appear and crisis takes its toll.

The article describes how hospitals will issue a “code blue” alert that calls a rapid-response team into action to aid patients undergoing cardiac arrest. Patients apparently exhibit early signs of distress such as respiratory rate changes and deviations in their appearance prior to the need for a full-fledged code blue alert. Hospitals are now codifying these patient early warning signs for nurses and other staff members in order to help staff identify them before it is too late.

Reputations can also be salvaged by paying more attention to early warning signs that precede crises. When former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner arrived at the troubled computer giant, he noticed that there were 339 satisfaction surveys, 128 different CIOs and 142 different financial systems. He warned others to take note of corporate bloat as a sign of impending deterioration.

Every company has early warning signs of danger. If we could only identify them, we’d hopefully safeguard more reputations from deterioration.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 02:23h, 08 December Reply

    Very good idea. Similar to a discussion I saw on this Travel Engines.

  • Nicolas
    Posted at 11:32h, 08 December Reply

    I totally agree with your post. Anticipating weak signals and potential threats could avoid some reputation crisis. Information systems, especially when they are dedicated to monitoring the firm’s environment, could play a useful role.
    I’m working on these issues and I describes some cases on my blog, but only in French for the moment 🙂

    Yours is very interesting !

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