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What Happens When Something Goes Wrong that is Totally Unexpected?

By Chris Acosta posted 11-11-2021 18:38

Please enjoy this blog post authored by Chris Acosta, Head of Firmwide eDiscovery Resources, Morrison & Foerster LLP 

The beginning of 2019 started out great, with lots of aspirations for the new year.  That quickly changed with a culmination of negative catalysts never seen in our industry.

Whether it was a lockdown or security breach matter, the same core competencies translated regardless of the situation. Communication, inclusion, and innovation allow you to rebound from a bad situation, no matter how small or large it may be.

A mentor of mine once said, “bad news is not like fine wine, and it does not get better with age.”  It may be a natural reaction to withhold such dire news, but sometimes you have to notify your stakeholders as soon as possible to get ahead of the situation.  From their perspective, they may need to mitigate risk on their end before a problem becomes more public, and not providing that information may handicap them.  It is important to maintain frequent communication with your stakeholders yet keep it concise. Provide the information they need to know to manage conversations on their end, but spare them the details unless required. 

Being inclusive is a crucial component for good or severe situations. While it may feel like you’re on an island, keep in mind that you do not have to do this alone.  Bringing in others, especially from other groups, provides multiple perspectives regarding the situation while also brainstorming the following steps and solutions. Including stakeholders in the conversation will also allow them to know what they’re dealing with and how to manage their clients better during this precarious time to maintain confidence. 

An adverse event may not have a playbook on dealing with the incident but still provide a silver lining.  With your inclusionary group, you now have the opportunity to brainstorm and use your creative muscle to innovate.  You now have carte blanche to think outside the box to do damage control and course correct.  This situation may be the opportunity for you to flex your innovative muscle not only for the short term but to possibly implement long-term initiatives to ensure that this scenario does not happen again.

In theory, these competencies may help you, but your resilience and fortitude to execute are the foundation of recovering from an adverse event.  It may not be a quick fix and could often take months, but remember this is an opportunity for you to shine and to lead your peers and stakeholders out of the fog.