While the halls of your corporate offices might not be anything like the halls of the less-than-triumphant Carnival cruise ship, there’s a great lesson to be learned (besides the obvious of how not to handle a crisis). The ability to tap your creativity and innovation at a moment’s notice is something all organizations should be prepared to do.
The Chinese symbol for crisis happens to be the same as the symbol for opportunity, and when it comes to a crisis situation, there’s an opportunity for innovation—something that our friends at the Carnival freak show failed to recognize.
You’ve just disembarked from a less-than-Love Boat experience, so how about $500 off the opportunity to do it again? Are you kidding me? And of course you’ll be getting a complete refund for the cost of the cruise to Hell; funny, the brochure didn’t mention we’d be stopping there.
There were so many opportunities for Carnival to come up with innovative ways to begin the process of righting the wrongs that its passengers experienced, but instead they fell back on a tired formula that the cruise industry uses whenever there’s an issue—refunds and discounts on another cruise—knowing, of course, that the number of people that will use their $500 discount on a future cruise is minimal.
For example, instead of chartering busses, what if Carnival had a fleet of limousines to take people to New Orleans? Being that people hadn't really eaten well for several days, what if they had a giant tent set up in Mobile with fabulous catered food for the passengers and their families—things that would be a step toward making amends with not only the people on board, but with their families too?
It’s difficult to reach consensus on innovative action during a crisis, but the opportunities to stand out in a positive, reputation-enhancing way are there for those willing to take a risk.