As the VW situation deepens and broadens we see the damaging effects of a crisis played out in the public eye. The firm lost a large slice of its market value in a matter of days, as did other manufacturers in somewhat of a domino effect. This episode only serves to remind us again that the actions leaders take (or don't) advised by (or not) professional firms can have far reaching and lasting effects.
Matt Nixon pens a thoughtful piece on lessons that might have been learned. Conveniently for leaders at professional firms Matt will be speaking for the MPF on 7 October on 'Crisis, Reputation & Hubris: Managing Risks for Client and Firm'
So what can we usefully say - if anything - at this early stage of the crisis? Well, perhaps we can already see a few familiar tropes about this crisis that suggest certain lessons from history may not been learned. Here are four learning points from previous crises that have already struck me (and some former colleagues!). These could potentially have saved VW's reputation: 1. Technocratic Europeans can't ignore US rules 2. Tough US regulators investigate where others don't 3. High minded missions don't survive if values are compromised 4. Political skirmishing in the boardroom distracts from operational grip