What Can Project Managers Takeaway from the Current Gulf Crisis?

Current Gulf Crisis

Six Arab countries—Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, and Yemen—severed their relations with Qatar on Monday over its alleged support of terrorism. This is not the preferred outcome. If things were managed right from the start outcome should have been better.

Crisis Management By PepsiCo:

Good Managers don’t always take ownership for disasters, but successful crisis management requires that managers accept responsibility for their actions. If you make a mistake, take responsibility for it, own up to it and fix it.

Crisis management is an art. PespsiCo famously managed the Crisis back in the year 1993 and here is how they did it.

When reports surfaced in 1993 that a syringe had been found in a can of Diet Pepsi in Washington state, PepsiCo found itself in hot water. More than 50 reports of Diet Pepsi can tampered were filed the following week, turning a PR hiccup into a full-blown fiasco.

Because PepsiCo and the FDA were confident that the can tampering claims were a hoax, the company came down hard on the accusations. With the FDA’s support, PepsiCo CEO Craig Weather up appeared on national television with visual evidence that proved the reports were false. The most compelling piece of evidence was a surveillance tape showing a woman putting a syringe into a can of Diet Pepsi, but PepsiCo also produced a series of informational videos that showed how the soda canning process worked.

Because of Weatherup’s aggressive defense of his company during a time of crisis, the rumors were quelled and sales began to recover within several weeks.

Qatar Crisis: How a manager can manage Project Crisis in 3 steps?

  1. Pre-Crisis
  2. During Crisis
  3. Post-Crisis

    1. Pre-Crisis

Qatar crisis is a disaster. But as a good Project Manager one can manage any type of Crisis. The first step in Crisis management is ‘Pre-Crisis’ here are some ways in which you can better manage the Crisis right before it hits you.

  • Showcase strong leadership and building trust among peers.
  • Figure out the risk intensity and develop co regency plans to better manage that risk.
  • Establish a Crisis Management team and use task management tool like TaskQue to assign duties and collaborate with the team effectively.
  • Stay alert for the warning signs.

    2. During Crisis

Once the news of Qatar supporting the terrorist groups got out. Gulf’s Problem Child tried its best to prevent further damage. Qatar has long practiced a ruthless foreign policy with diverse priorities to its neighbors. To manage any Crisis first step to list down the necessary steps and go in a planned manner.

An intuitive project manager, in such Crisis, can take the following steps to better manage the Crisis.

  • Being realistic yet positive
  • Before you speak to anyone or during your communication, make sure to document every word. Most of the time, the solution lie in front of us. If we document everything we will have a greater chance to manage the Crisis.
  • Assign and prioritize everything to the relevant person.
  • One of the vital steps is to keep an integrated internal and external communication. Because if that communication goes out, it will create chaos among the organization.
  • There is no right or wrong suggestion. Listen to every suggestion and decide what is meant for the greater good.
  • There is nothing wrong with accepting your faults and ask for help.

    3. Post-Crisis

Qatar isolated by its neighbors. These were the consequences of the decision made by Qatar. As per the Qatari Foreign Minister:

“We are not ready to surrender, and will never be ready to surrender, the independence of our foreign policy,”

                                                                      Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani

This was a well-rehearsed reply from the minister. An upright Project Manager will take the necessary steps to work its way after the Crisis. Once the Crisis is gone, its consequences are felt deep down in the roots of the organization. To minimize the effect, here are some tips which a Project Manager can implement:

  • Gather the documented data from pre-Crisis and devise the action plan keeping the full picture in view.
  • Be transparent when talking to media or any outer resources. Tell them the problem and how you are going to manage the Crisis?
  • Review the lessons learned with your team. What strategies worked and what need further improvement before you apply them?
  • Be transparent with your customers and stakeholders.

On the end note

The crisis has provoked anxieties in Qatar, a leading gas exporter as well as an international travel hub, whose flagship carrier Qatar Airways has been forced to fly circuitous and expensive routes over Iran and Turkey after being blocked elsewhere in the Middle East. However, the right management should have given the right results.