I suppose everyone has heard the chestnut about how the Chinese character for danger is the same as that for opportunity (a chestnut which, by the way, is apparently wrong). Well, I think there is some truth to the idea that crises reveal opportunities. More to the point, it’s in a crisis where you really reveal your true colors.
Back in the proverbial day, when Johnson & Johnson’s lucrative Tylenol brand was threatened by a nutcase bent on poisoning people, the company did the unthinkable (but right) thing– they yanked all of the product from the shelves, even though 99.9% of the product was certainly untainted. The entire episode remains to this day a case study in how to handle a crisis. The brand emerged better, stronger, faster for the company’s crisis handling.
Very recently, mighty Google has had a crisis, albeit of smaller proportions. I’ve blogged about the new Web Optimizer tool which is part of Adwords. Well, a week ago, an alert started popping up in Adwords management area alerting users to a flaw in the optimizer code. Apparently a pretty serious flaw which could allow someone to take over your page for god-knows-what nefarious purposes. I soon got emails from Google on this problem as well, with instructions for a fix.
I assumed that was the end of it, until today, when I actually got a phone call from someone at Google. Actually, I have 2 separate Adwords accounts, so I got 2 separate phone calls from 2 different people. They wanted to be sure that I had installed the patch. Now, I’m sure most people are aware that Google is probably the most telephone-averse company on the planet. You can’t seem to call them about anything. So I’m really surprised that they were calling little-old-me to be sure I got the fix (necessitated by their buggy code, but still). More than a few people use Adwords, and I’m sure there are quite a few who use Optimizer. Assuming they are calling all of the optimizer users… well, that’s an awful lot of people to call. It couldn’t have been an easy to decision to make, nor to implement.
Google’s been getting increasing amounts of heat lately, ever since they have started to become the monopolistic monolith which Microsoft once was. And people start to refer to their famous ‘don’t be evil’ motto with scorn. But really, can you recall a single time in the past 20 years when Microsoft called you to make sure you had installed a security patch? A single instance? During one of the perhaps 2,000,000 episodes where they exposed you to serious security risks through buggy software?
Neither can I. True colors in a crisis… words to remember, and live by.