Unwilling to acknowledge risk or take meaningful steps to reduce it, Ostriches are often caught by surprise when there is a crisis or significant issue. Moreover, low stakeholder awareness tends to exacerbate risk and undermine competitiveness.
Ostriches have some inherent advantages – they are large and they are fast. However, they are also flightless, conspicuous, typically shy, and when faced with danger either run away or hide, apocryphally known for putting their head in the sand.
Ostrich organizations tend to be larger organizations with an industry dominant position often resulting in complacency. They typically fail to identify strategic threats or truly appreciate risk. If the threat or risk does materialize, ostriches either run or make a somewhat pointless attempt to hide.
Because of the Ostrich organization’s tendency to discount or even fail to acknowledge risk, what little risk avoidance strategies they do have in place are driven by a “check-the-box” / compliance mindset. Ostrich organizations typically have no defined crisis management program. An unwillingness to prepare or anticipate risk means that when something does happen the ostrich is caught flat-footed and surprised. Decisions made in a crisis will typically undermine, rather than enhance, the credibility of the organization and its management.
The Ostrich organization will mistakenly believe that because it is tall and has a relatively good viewpoint that is understands what its stakeholders expect. It suffers from confirmation bias, however, and is really only interested in engaging with those that share its view. The focus of an Ostrich organization’s external engagement is on explaining why the it has been right all along with little to no interest in listening to the perspectives of internal or external stakeholders.
Renew engagement of senior leadership in crisis preparedness activities, including plan development, training and proactively identifying areas of risk.
Engage & Communicate
Start to critically engage with your stakeholders and learn to understand their expectations. Identify untapped opportunities to build your reputation and take steps to protect your reputation from heretofore ignored vulnerabilities.