As a crisis management professional, it would be my job to assess the situation, define the crisis, and develop a plan that would address stakeholder concerns allowing the company to move forward with, hopefully, minimal negative and maximal positive impact to the organizational reputation (Coombs, 2012). The Intel Pentium flaw did not impact Intel’s reputation in 1994 as much as preceding inattention to quality that modeled consumers’ perceptions and production and marketing irregularities that computing insiders were quite aware (Mihaiu, 2001). Even as recently as last year, Intel has been plagued with poorly performing processors (Fontevecchia, 2011). I believe that many of the processor issues were merely a result of being cutting-edge in a fast-paced competitive environment, though Intel’s reputation need not suffer from inattention to that fact. The problem: convincing the CEO that a) there is a crisis, b) this crisis needs to be dealt with (costing money), and c) it needs to be dealt with openly and ethically in order to maximize the reputation of the company.
Previously, as a computer programmer and analyst, I was intimately familiar with Intel line of processors, and I can attest to the overall positive reputation Intel has enjoyed since moving into the consumer computing arena; however, as stated above, the company’s reputation was not always seen in a positive light. Using my familiarity with Intel, my primary suggestion to the CEO regarding the Pentium debacle would be to remain honest and open with external publics while making the situation right. The honesty of the situation should be accepted by many consumers so long as Intel garners a net positive reputation. This net positive should be reinforced with the professed willingness of correcting the situation. The message should be: “We are on the cutting-edge of computing and consistently push the envelop in leaps and bounds, and we cannot always get everything right, but we can make it right… and, we will!”
The CEO, however, may decide that the situation is minimal and not unlike others that the company has faced in the past. Dealing with these issues previously may have created an air of complacency that needs to be countered in order to prevent further cumulative effect on the reputation of Intel. Regardless, as Coombs (2012) points out, if implementing a crisis management plan “improve[s] the situation and benefit[s] the organization, its stakeholders, or both” (p. 125), the situation should be approached and handled as crisis. The ethical dictum of “do the right thing” should provide for, at least, the fundamental guiding principles in responding to any issue, which would help to ensure that negativity is deflected and minimized appropriately. A CEO who has no appreciation of the gravity of the circumstances may need to be reminded of this in order to prod him into action.
Coombs, W. T. (2012). Ongoing crisis communication: planning, managing, and responding. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Fontevecchia, A. (2011, January 31). Chip recall hurts Intel’s reputation, tablet fears a bigger problem. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/afontevecchia/2011/01/31/chip-recall-hurts-intels-reputation-tablet-fears-a-bigger-problem/
Mihaiu, R. (2001, July 3). Intel’s tricks! Retrieved from http://mihaiu.name/2001/intel_tricks/