OPED: Egypt’s Next Crisis: Power
Earlier this week, writing about the crisis in the Sinai, I asked if Egypt had a crisis communication team in place. The answer is “no”.
Unfortunately for President Morsi, and his barely hours old team, the hits keep coming, as evidenced by the ongoing power outages throughout Egypt. While these are certainly not at all his fault, they are falling squarely on his shoulders.
He needs a professional crisis communication team. Yesterday.
Reem Abdellatif’s report in the Los Angeles Times summarizes perfectly why Morsi’s team needs to get ahead of the power crisis:
Massive blackout hits Cairo, sparking new anger at Egyptian government
Egypt was plunged into its worst blackout in months Thursday when a power outage swept across much of the capital, crippling the Egyptian Stock Exchange, stranding passengers in subway cars and creating fresh anger at the embattled government.
The outage was the latest in a spate of blackouts that have paralyzed cities across the nation this summer. Egyptians also are becoming less patient with ubiquitous shortages of water and fuel, especially because they have been occurring when tempers are short in the sweltering heat during the fasting month of Ramadan.
The crisis adds to new President Mohamed Morsi’s challenges because many Egyptians attribute the problems to the state’s poor management. Power disruptions have been maddeningly more frequent than in past summers and appear to symbolize a fledgling democracy in trouble.
The power outages are costing Egypt’s economy millions of pounds and aggravating millions of people.
Blame the past regime all you want, but Morsi and his technocrat ministers own the power crisis.
Google “keys to crisis management” and the top reply is “10 Rules to Crisis Management.” Egypt’s new Prime Minister Hesham Qandil must read this before his address to the nation tonight, paying close attention to number five: Three Key Messages for Every Crisis. His speech must include the following three phrases:
- “We have a plan to deal with…”
- “Our hearts and prayers go out to those…”
- “We immediately began our own investigation to make sure that we…”
Next, PM Qandil should execute number nine – “Get Outside Help”:
When a crisis strikes, seeking an outsider’s perspective is paramount. Internal politics tend to take over in the middle of a major problem as people become more focused on keeping their jobs, rather than what is best for
the company[EGYPT]. Good leaders expect these internal politics and counter them by bringing in someone from the outside who can look at the issues without bias. This individual’s role is not to call all the shots. His or her role is to provide counsel to a team leader – a perspective that few inside the company[GOVERNMENT] can offer. They are free to look at things that many tend to overlook because of their internal biases. Just because you bring in outside counsel doesn’t mean you can’t handle the crisis. It means you recognize your weaknesses and are smart enough to do something about it.
The President and Prime Minister have inherited a mess. It will take much longer than 100 days to dispense with those “more focused on keeping their jobs” than what is best for Egypt. They must get professional, outside help to navigate crisis management and communications. Otherwise every crisis will manage them.
Finally, this rule – Every Crisis Is An Opportunity:
Smart leaders understand that in the midst of crisis, there is opportunity. Don’t be afraid to seize the moment. Yes, there is risk involved, but that is true with every opportunity.
It is my sincere hope President Morsi and Prime Minister Qandil seize this moment, and most importantly: prepare for the next one(s).