Crisis management: Lessons from the Chilean mine rescue

Stark contrasts between actions there and the responses to Katrina and the BP disaster.

Stark contrasts between actions there and the responses to Katrina and the BP disaster

Now that the last of the miners has been lifted to safety, we—and they—can take a deep breath and look back on the lessons of 68 days. The Chilean government showed not only leadership, but remarkable communication savvy throughout the ordeal. In many ways, it’s like a mirror image of the BP disaster. Here are some crisis management lessons we can unearth from the handling of the mine collapse and rescue.

Take responsibility. In stepping in to take over the rescue operations, Chile’s Sebastian Pinera took an enormous calculated risk. The decision could have been influenced by criticism of his government’s slow response to the March earthquake near Concepcion. Whatever the reasons, the Chilean actions contrast sharply with what we in the U.S. saw post-Hurricane Katrina, and after the BP disaster, in which the government chose to leave BP in charge. For Pinera, it clearly paid off.

Manage expectations. Remember the initial estimates that the miners might be out by Christmas? Whether simple caution, or communications strategy, this was a masterstroke. It took some of the pressure off, enabled the government to succeed beyond all hopes, and made it look super competent in the process.

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