If you’re like me and millions of others, you’ve been watching with awe, shock and profound sadness the events unfolding in Japan in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Even if the fear of a nuclear meltdown subsides, this is an ongoing crisis that will impact the country’s economy and its people for years to come.
There’s nothing that could have been done to prevent these natural disasters. It is a stark reminder that nature, not mankind, is the dominant force on this speck of cosmic dust we call planet Earth. You can’t nip nature in the bud whether it’s earthquakes in Japan, or California, Hurricanes in Florida, flooding in New Orleans or New Jersey or even blizzards that sweep across the country like wildfire bringing great cities to their knees. And sadly, there’s little to be done about a madman with a gun bent on destruction.
The best we can do in many cases is to prepare and minimize the impact. But these lessons still to be learned. Despite the food industry’s integral role in daily life, how many companies have “active” crisis management plans? The operative word here is active! Not a plan you paid a consultant to come up with and promptly put on the shelf to collect dust. Having a plan is not the end, it is the beginning.
This need not be a costly undertaking. Start by putting together crisis management teams, update phone numbers for managers and employees and start thinking about alternate methods of communication. Collaborate with wholesalers, suppliers and community groups on plans that identify risk and will keep the supply chain intact during a crisis.
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.