My grandfather built his own house on a farm in Saskatchewan. The house is now 75 years old and is home to a new family. I am tremendously fortunate to have had him share this skill with me. I built a bookshelf, can hang doors, and build decks. As with most carpenters, the cardinal rule was to measure twice and cut once.
There are a number of recent reputational crisis that have led me to edit this sage advice a bit – Think Twice, Speak Once.
The most recent is the CEO of Carta, a darling of the Valley. The quick description from @Eleanor Hawkins, (who is my my thought partner, she just doesn’t know it): Carta, a startup valued at $7.4 billion, has been under fire for a slew of workplace concerns —namely allegations of gender discrimination and sexual abuse. In response, CEO and co-founder Henry Ward sent an eyebrow raising missive to customers alerting them to the problems, and the negative coverage that followed.”
I have zero tolerance for the accused behavior and I have zero doubt that this hairbrained idea was not run by a communications person. It is said that it is best to get out in front of a story (true) but in the think twice scenario, someone should have said “will our customers know about what’s going on or will we be alerting them? What’s the worst thing that happens if we do that?”
They didn’t ask the question and we now know the answer – national news coverage.
There is a more technical term for asking this type of question, second level thinking, which is when you ask yourself “what are the impacts of this decision?”
And when you are a start up, that is critically important. You don’t have years of results and stakeholders that deeply trust you from a longstanding relationship. The reputation you are building is fragile and between 25% and 45% of your value — a value that matters to a lot of people like customers, employees and investors.
Starting a business requires thought. As a founder, thinking twice and speaking once should be in your business plan.
Need help? Kith facilitates crisis preparedness workshops that will help your company attain the clarity, trust and speed you need to respond confidently – no dithering! – to any crisis. We’d be happy to have a conversation about how we can help your company be ready to chart an effective course to reputation protection.