Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chile rescue crisis high ground

The Chilean miners are safe on high ground after one of the most intense rescues in modern mining history. Thirty three men safely recovered after 68 days of critical and dangerous recovery. The government of Chile can stand proud in the knowledge that it achieved a dynamic process of crisis management response and leadership. In short, they under-promised and over-delivered.

Chilean President, Sebastian Pinera, and the Minister for Mining, Laurence Golborne, took the high ground in taking control of rescue operations and leadership. They delivered the status of the rescue accurately and transparently. A very different result to mining disasters like Sago in West Virginia where a tired, washed out CEO gave the news that 13 miners were alive, and a short time later it was announced that 12 people had died and only one had survived. The Chilean example of crisis leadership also differs greatly to the confusing response to the devastating Hurricane Katrina and more recently the BP oil spill.

The keys to the success of this crisis outcome relate very much to the Chilean government having a focused crisis plan and communicating proactive, clear messages to essential stakeholders. The first and most important audience were the miners and the community, and the government placed them at the centre of their communication strategy. The government's candour with the mine's employees and community increased its credibility with a massive number of global media. Credibility translated into fair treatment and respect for the rescue process.