was recently told a story about the Japan operation of the Swedish clothing retailer H&M. After the March 11 earthquake, acting CEO Hans Anderson contacted headquarters in Sweden to ask instructions on what to do. There was no plan or policy for the eventuality of a major earthquake with a tsunami and nuclear accident, and so he was told, “Use the company values as a guide and do what you think best.” And so he did. The company’s values including caring for employees and protecting the safety its staff and customers first and foremost. Hans Anderson decided to move operations from Tokyo to Osaka, and offered to pay for relocation of staff and their families if they wished or otherwise allow people to take time off from work. He insisted that all stores and facilities remain closed until they could be inspected and assured of safety, beyond the typical standards applied in Japan.
We cannot create policies and plans for every possible eventuality, whether extreme or part of day-to-day business. However, we can decide the values that make our business great and use the them as a guide to make decisions. If you can do that, your business will be able to ride out the next tsunami or other unforeseen eventuality.