From the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, how to manage your business in the face of challenge, change, and potential disaster
For James Lee Witt, the man who rebuilt America's emergency response system, the most inspiring and effective lessons--about responsibility, team building, planning, and taking action--have guided real-life heroes through extraordinary situations. These lessons can be applied to business to guide you through the pressures you face each week--or once in a career or a lifetime.
Whether describing earthquake preparation in California, moving a Missouri town out of a floodplain, or shoring up walls and spirits after the Oklahoma City bombing, Witt captures the moments when leaders step forward, how they motivate others, and what they need to triumph over adversity. Witt's home-spun wisdom teaches us to "Tear Down the Stovepipes" to build effective teamwork by thinking horizontally, not vertically; to find energizing people who improve morale, whether a V.P.'s secretary or a key client, since "A Lightning Rod Works Both Ways"; and to establish systems for capturing what happens--what goes right and what goes wrong--to ensure that every challenge leaves you "Stronger in the Broken Places."
To bring home the ten lessons in this inspiring and useful book, Witt shares examples and strategies from corporations--from Malden Mills and Intel to Swissair and Kmart--who have overcome crisis by applying the same principles to their business every day.
Witt's first book, co-written with author Morgan (The Distance to the Moon), addresses business leaders struggling with the ever-present possibility of disaster. Witt, who served as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 1993 until 2001, here shares dozens of anecdotes about crisis management. The examples are not all business-related (e.g., one details the burning of a California family's home), but all are designed to teach leaders how to respond to emergencies. Witt divides the book into four sections: crisis preparation, prevention, response and recovery. Each section includes real-life events, such as the Oklahoma City bombing and a Missouri flood, and concludes with some important points for leaders ("measure the gap and make the leap," "map out the ripple effects" and "aim high-but never take your eye off your foundation"). The book has a storytelling feel to it-Witt frequently speaks in the first person-which should appeal to patient managers who want plenty of yarns with their business advice.