In a crisis? Don’t make decisions too quickly

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When things are going badly, many organizations want to act rapidly. But don’t make decisions too quickly….

Parents with “challenging” offspring learn one manoeuvre early on: they don’t dish out consequences too quickly. That’s because they know that if they have to retract or change their minds, they’ll lose face with their children.

If only more organizations would learn this important fact!

Recently, an elite private school in Montreal, Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, discovered that its 73-year-old drama teacher had appeared in nude films more than 40 years ago. Jacqueline Laurent-Auger (pictured above) had struggled for work as a young woman so she’d appeared, sans vêtements, in such films as Diary of a Nymphomaniac. When the school discovered this news (some 40 years after the fact, but never mind), they fired her.

I don’t quibble with the school’s right to insist on certain behaviours of its teachers. As long as they abide by human rights, they can demand anything they want. But they reacted too quickly in this case and now they’re having to change their minds.

Widespread sympathy for the teacher and her predicament have left the impression that the school is prudish, fusty and short-sighted. No school, particularly one that charges admission fees, can afford to be perceived this way. So the school is having to back-track. Now, they’re offering Laurent-Auger her job back.

If school leaders had thought about public reaction, before delivering the consequences, they would have saved themselves much national negative publicity. As well, they wouldn’t have faced the nuisance of having to find another teacher. Laurent-Auger hasn’t decided whether she’s going to take back the job. And they wouldn’t look so inept.

Even in a crisisespecially in a crisis — don’t make decisions too quickly. You’ll likely just end up regretting it.

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