Crisis Expert on NPR: Toyota Could Turn Around in 5 Years

People around the world just sighed a collective “finally” as Toyota President Akio Toyoda said he was “deeply sorry” for the automaker’s crisis. What was behind the belated response?

Eric Dezenhall, CEO of Dezenhall Resources and author of “Damage Control” was on NPR yesterday to discuss what really happens behind the scenes of a corporate crisis, and debunk widely held myths.

Executives do need to convey compassion and be transparent, but not at the expense of legal concerns. Dezenhall called it the “great tension.” He continued, “it’s a ridiculous cliche that if you just fess up, the problem will go away. I don’t see evidence that this is true. However if you’re cold and aloof, it’s another situation.”

The author, a former Reagan Administration staffer and veteran of very similar campaigns such as Audi’s “sudden acceleration” crisis of 1986 explained that it’s very hard to tell if your plan is working until the dust settles.

The “dream teams” assembled initially, “they’re not dream teams, they’re nightmare teams. No one knows what they’re doing. It’s bedlam.”

Toyota’s bounce-back will take years to see, and it will depend on what its competitors do in response. However, like Apple, it’s noted that Toyota has a good stash of “trust equity” in the bank.