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Crisis Management: Reframing the Issue When the Correct Solution Comes at a Very Wrong Time

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

*This article is relevant to performance improvement employees of organizations experiencing crisis or vendors helping to solve a customer's organizational crisis.


During a current or potential crisis, there are numerous reasons to reframe a crisis statement from a new point of view. Two key reasons focus on temporary tactical reprieves and communication accuracy.


During a high-profile, high-risk, or SHADOW game of politics, the root cause solution to an overall problem might cost your direct or indirect customer a lot more money and scrutiny in the media than a temporary (superficial) reprieve solution of a secondary- or sub-crisis. In other words:

A correct and permanent root cause solution submitted to the customer at the wrong political time may be a wrong current solution.

In Figure 4 of Maneuvering Games of Business Politics with Design Thinking, there are many times when solving the root cause problem must be momentarily postponed or reframed to offer an urgently needed short-term temporary reprieve first.

Frequently, reprieves are used as delay tactics until the root cause is found and a better solution can be implemented without more immediate negative public attention on your customer.

As an example of a temporary reprieve, imagine if your customer was negatively covered in the news over the year for Primary Problem A. They've been trying to recover from the negative hit to their reputation for the past year. Simultaneously, they've been working to find and solve their root cause performance problem that caused the backlash.

Suddenly, an influential union representative speaks to the media about a correlated or even seemingly unrelated Secondary Problem F at your customer's organization. That recent news gains current public attention--impacting their reputation negatively again. You customer now needs to satisfy the union representative’s publicly trending concerns (Primary Problem F) as a temporary reprieve to buy time to finish the root cause fix to their primary problem (Primary Problem A) without additional compacted and snowballing scrutiny in the media. In this context, you may or may not have to delay working on the Primary Problem A to address the viral Secondary Problem F. It may seem frustrating in the game of business politics especially for those secondary problems that seem unrelated, distracting, or a hindrance to solving the root cause. However, Secondary Problem F usually can't be ignored.


What Sazara R. Johnson calls the business and human performance multiplicity rule is used to reframe communication for accuracy. Many times, professionals in medium to large organizational initiatives assume that a particular word means the same throughout every business level and professional rank. However, the same word used throughout various business levels usually has meanings that are very different according to each individual business and ranking level. Many times, professionals in differing business levels don't realize that there are definition differences for the same word.

Therefore, Program decision makers should authorize and distribute a standard business document containing or combining each level’s standard program words and definitions. Direct and indirect customer program vendors must have direct access to this standard document, which should be placed on a shared drive for easy access and update. Only designated persons should be given the edit-and-write document rights to update the document--not everyone. However, anyone should be allowed to suggest edits for the document. Only appropriate suggestions should be approved.

If a standard document of definitions is not created and distributed, miscommunication and misunderstandings will result.

To figure out how many lines of communication exist and how much miscommunication could occur, we emphasize to decision makers the importance of this mathematical formula: View the formula and other crisis management formulas on the recently published article Maneuvering Games of Business Politics with Design Thinking

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