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Volume 32, Issue 4

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Monday, 19 October 2015 05:00

Learning From The Mistakes Of Others

Written by  Vicki Thomas

VW Golf TDI Clean Diesel WAS 2010 8983Volkswagen emissions scandal…

Bad news for car manufacturers. Bad news for Volkswagen. Bad news for big business. Bad news for management. Bad news for workers. Bad news for car dealerships.

Good news for environmental protection standards. Good news for alternative-energy vehicles. Good news for pundits and analysts. Good news for communications experts.

Great news for business continuity…. What do you think? The facts about the Volkswagen emissions scandal are very clear (a defeat device was installed on 11 million cars that tricked/cheated the emissions test - this was discovered by accident during tests run at a West Virginia University lab) but what is not clear is how widely the impacts of this scandal will be felt.

This is why it’s actually great news for business continuity. Using Volkswagen as a case study for many years to come, business continuity professionals can demonstrate how and why it’s so vitally important to have a business continuity plan in place.

Consider these actions:

  1. The CEO of Volkswagen, Martin Winkerton, resigned. Granted this resignation did come a day after he pledged to fix the problem and said that he was “endlessly sorry”for the scandal.
  2. Volkswagen has admitted to installing the defeat devices that lowered emissions levels during emissions tests.
  3. Volkswagen has hired a leading anti-corruption manager from Dailmer. Lawyer Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt will join Volkswagen on January 1, 2016 as an executive responsible for integrity and legal affairs.
  4. Volkswagen has pledged to fully cooperate with all investigations into its wrong-doing.
  5. Volkswagen halts the sale of all polluting diesel cars.

This all looks good from a business continuity perspective - the company has responded, taken public action and is pledging to comply with any and all investigations. But what about that other part of business continuity - reaching out to the customer, communicating clearly with those directly affected, ensuring there are open channels of communication….

This is where Volkswagen has faltered and continues to falter. And this is what makes this so interesting from a business continuity perspective. It looks like the company had some corporate communications plans in place to deal with this kind of worst-case scenario but it appears that the company has unfortunately neglected to think of its customers - those driving its vehicles.

What do you think? Does the Volkswagen emissions scandal make for an interesting case study and analysis of what to do and not to do in a time of crisis? Do you wonder about the company’s internal plans for future growth and recovery? If you were on the executive team at Volkswagen, what would be your first priority? Important things to think about: so what about your company, is it ready for its own “emissions scandal”?

To read more analysis about the Volkswagen emissions scandal and the bigger ramifications it could have, follow these links: