Crisis Management

Crisis Management & Leadership

martin-choenMaverick can help any organization properly prepare and practice for all types of crises. Dr. Martin D. Cohen, the head of the firm’s crisis management team and the Firm's Director of Behavioral Integration Management™ (BIM) has been planning, preparing, and simulating catastrophic scenarios—and governments' response for over twenty years. Often left out of crisis management and crisis leadership is the need to assess and address the concerns of employees, vendors, shareholders and the public. As an example, just look at how Boeing’s current botched crisis management efforts for its 787 Dreamliner problems have impacted a broad range of stakeholders.

And remember, crisis leadership does not always come naturally: a great CEO may be a terrible leader during a crisis. Maverick can first assess, and then coach your organization's executives and managers to become capable, effective and inspirational leaders during a crisis. And if you need us on-site during a crisis, we can have a team on the ground within hours-and available by phone within minutes.

Most organizations don't want to spend the money to prepare and plan for scenarios that seem so unlikely to occur. And a one-time effort to create a "management preparedness committee" that writes a white paper on crisis management; that gets little attention and ends up in the circular file is a complete waste of your organization's time and resources.

Training your executives and managers to be leaders during a crisis takes both time and money. Analyzing potential risks to your company or organization also takes time and money. And continuously up-dating and simulating crises of all kinds against your company and employees takes, that's right, time and money. So why do it? Because the costs you'll incur when something does happen will be exponentially greater than if you had prepared and practiced in advance.


      • Management Assessment & Coaching
      • Black Swan Simulations
      • Executive Coaching
      • Crisis Leadership Training
      • Real Time Crisis Response Teams On-site
      • Planning, Execution and Analyses of Mock Crisis Scenarios
      • Building High Performance Crisis Management Teams
      • Crisis Preparedness / Strategy and Tactics

Dr. Martin D. Cohen is a licensed clinical psychologist with over thirty years in practice. In addition to his leadership role at Maverick, Marty is also the Clinical Director for Response of the State of Florida's Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team, which prepares for and provides psychological first aid to individuals and communities in the event of a terrorist attack, hurricane or other disaster.

The same experience, skills and perspectives that Marty brings to the citizens, first responders, and visitors in the state of Florida and around the world (he was recently invited to be the keynote speaker on a crisis management panel sponsored by the Chinese government), he brings to our client organizations. The goal being, of course, to mitigate the adverse effects of traumatic events -- whether from natural disasters, workplace violence, accidents, or more psychological traumas such as death of co-workers, lay-offs or reorganizations. By promoting and restoring psychological well-being and daily life functioning, corporate productivity can be most effectively maintained.

Contact Maverick today to learn how we can provide professional crisis management services to your organization. Just provide us with some basic information and the firm's practice leader will contact you directly.

To read Dr. Cohen’s article titled, Leading in a Crisis click here.

Are You Prepared for Crisis?

 Listen to a Maverick Minute about Crisis Leadership

The majority of public and private sector companies, as well as many local, state and Federal agencies pay lip service to preparing for a crisis: but only a small percentage has taken the tangible and ongoing steps necessary to ensure that a product liability case, natural disaster, an act of work place violence or other catastrophic event doesn't cause an internal and external crisis-based meltdown. Please read through the questions below—and see if your organization, its executives and managers are truly ready to effectively manage a crisisand lead employees, investors and the public successfully through it.

Crisis #1:

Are you prepared to lead your organization through a crisis relating to work place violence?

Work place violence is not limited to the Post Office. It's more common than you think. What has your organization done to prepare for this calamity which can easily morph into a full blown crisis?

Crisis #2:

Product liability issues or a lack of public trust in your company's products?

Remember the recent issue with Wendy's in California? A woman customer claimed that she found a part of a finger in her chili? It turned out to be a lie, but it still cost Wendy's millions of dollars in lost business. You don't have to sell food or drugs or dangerous toys in order to be the victim of product liability claims that can derail your marketing efforts, drag your organization's good name through the mud: or cause the loss of millions of dollars in revenues – and millions more in added legal expenses. 

Crisis #3:

Corporate compliance and financial irregularities.

For public companies, corporate compliance issues aren't just the domain of Sarbanes-Oxley and the SEC. The disclosure of even minor accounting irregularities can lead to a full blown crisis in confidence of your company's stock or your organization's credibility and integrity. Does Fannie Mae ring a bell? 

Crisis #4:

Corporate culture that encourages employees to disregard ethical considerations.

Often times, an organization's culture can be the root cause of employees creating false and misleading data with regard to their company's actual performance. Managers and executives who insist on blind loyalty from their subordinates create an environment in which employees feel pressured to cook the books to meet financial benchmarks or release new products before they are ready. Did I hear someone say J.P. Morgan Chase? Bank of America? Countrywide Financial? BP?

Crisis #5:

A terrorist attack, a company specific attack, natural disaster, or other catastrophic event.

The 9/11 Public Discourse Project (the successor, non-government investigative panel to the 9/11 Commission) headed by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton said this in a recently released report: "Standards are only beginning to find their way into private sector business practices." They graded the private sector over all with a grade of "C." Can your organization afford to maintain that grade point? Ask yourself, "What would happen if...? We don't think you'll be satisfied with your own answers.

Black Swan Events

What are Black Swan Events?

Nassim Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable, defines a Black Swan event:

"I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of black swans explains almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives. Ever since we left the Pleistocene, some ten million years ago, the effect of these Black Swans has been increasing. It started accelerating during the industrial revolution, as the world started getting more complicated, while ordinary events, the ones we study and discuss and try to predict from reading the newspapers, have increasingly become inconsequential."

Let's start with the very concept of "crisis management." If that's what you're planning, and many companies will do just that, you're already behind the momentum and fallout of the crisis being "managed." All you'll be able to manage is watching the event spin out of your control.

 In the case that you're not prepared for a crisis (and that's most companies and private and government sector organizations), what you really want is a firm that can provide, immediate, thoughtful, experienced, and logical crisis leadership. The process begins by providing your organization with professional crisis leadership that is predictive, innovative, experienced and pro-active. Equally important is that crisis leadership does not begin when a crisis occurs. The engagement begins before then: so that Maverick can assess your current readiness, identify weaknesses and strengths, and appropriately train those who will be on the front lines of any future crisis. And, it includes making sure that your people understand their role in a crisis, and where their guidance will come from when, not if, a crisis eventually occurs.

As Dr. Marty Cohen says, "When feelings go up, thinking goes down." When it's your crisis, your feelings and emotions are likely going to interfere with rational decision making. You need outside resources to lead your people and your company out of the crisis as quickly as events and circumstances allow. At the same time, your senior people and crisis leadership team are all required to present a calming and highly visible internal and public face that conveys to one and all that as bad as the event that occurred may be, there is a responsive leadership in place that is highly communicative, knowledgeable and capable. Maverick will provide you with the ability to respond exactly as you need to: to calm your customers, stakeholders, employees and the market (if you're a public company).

Once you recognize the need to have a crisis leadership firm available when it's needed most, consider this: who are the people that are going to presumably provide that much needed training in advance of a crisis, and provide and assist with your own and the company's leadership at the most difficult time in its history?

At Maverick, your crisis leadership team is led by two practice directors: Dr. Martin D. Cohen, a licensed, clinical psychologist and Dr. Michael Weeks. Dr. Cohen is credited with creating and implementing the first psychological trauma response teams for first responders and victims in the country. His model has been copied throughout the U.S. Recently, Dr. Cohen was invited to share his knowledge of providing psychological trauma response teams to the Chinese government. Dr. Weeks (his doctorate was earned at Oxford University) is a retired Air Force pilot who retired at the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In addition to his role at Maverick Dr. Weeks is a tenured professor of business at the University of Tampa.

Providing scenarios and simulation supporting Drs. Cohen and Weeks is Charles Beck, Jr., a former career officer from the covert directorate of the CIA, and Bill Stark, who founded the first privately held counter terrorism and risk assessment firm staffed entirely by former career officers from the CIA and other federal agencies (and was recruited by Mr. Beck in the late 1970's). Creating remote but plausible crisis scenarios requires significant experience and operations expertise in the clandestine world-and Maverick brings an abundance of that to the table, in addition to military and psychological insights. We don't believe you'll find another firm with Maverick's depth and breadth of knowledge and operational experience in this area of crisis leadership and strategy.

Black Swan is that part of the Maverick's Crisis Leadership practice that deals with, and we quote Donald Rumsfeld, "the unknown unknowns." We can't predict Black Swan events-no one can, but within our experience is the ability to conceive and recognize potential events that may not be recognized internally by your organization's risk management, HR or senior level management groups. The crisis scenarios created by our Black Swan group, while highly improbable, are possible. Maverick can create and lead real-time simulations that will test every aspect of your organization's crisis response and readiness capability. Maverick can run these simulations prior to preparing and training your people for such events-or after it has already assessed and trained your people. The simulation will be as real as is possible-without causing a "War of the Worlds" scenario. Remember what you learned long ago? "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best?" Well, the best is not generally what you get. But Maverick will prepare you and your people for the worst, which will enable them to respond better to future crises that may not rise to Black Swan Events.