This book is really three books in one.
Firstly, it is an inside account of the breaking of the Satyam scandal, when the founder and chairman of one of India’s most successful and most loved companies confessed to having committed a massive accounting fraud. Told through the personal statements of employees and managers, we discover the human impact on devoted employees when the company that has become part of their own identity changes from revered to disgraced overnight.
Secondly, the book provides a step-by-step guide to managing a company in the immediate aftermath of a crisis. Starting from a ‘lights on strategy’, the book moves into detailed processes for communication priorities, reestablishing trust in leaders, evaluating the cultural shifts and steering the culture back in the right direction.
In many ways, the actual cause of a corporate crisis (in this case, the accounting fraud) is not what does the long-term damage to the company. Much of the damage is caused by the subsequent loss of talent and knowledge which causes a flow-on loss of customers and revenue.
Many successful organisations have faced setbacks, and recovered, becoming stronger and healthier. As is explained in this book, (and in some ways referenced in Jim Collins’ writing) even in a crisis the application of great management and learning can retain talent and knowledge and help to set the company on a new, more sustainable course.
Finally, the book is a manifesto for the importance of learning and development in all companies. If these powerful learning strategies can guide and heal a sick organization, imagine what they can do for a healthy one.
I would recommend this big not only for managers in learning and development roles, but also for managers of other departments. The techniques in this book don’t need to be saved for that one huge crisis. Many of these strategies can be implemented in ongoing planning, in preparing an organization for change, or even in helping employees deal with the small knocks that all companies face: the death of an employee or leader, the loss of a major client or changes in the political/economic/technical landscape that challenge the established vision for the company.