Several days ago, I mused about the Fonterra botulism scare, and asked why Fonterra had failed to respond well, especially when an exemplar crisis response case was available. Some eight days passed between the point that management recognised the problem and the point that the board became visible. Initial press briefings were messy (to say the least), and the public was left unsure of what was going on and whether Fonterra milk products were safe or not. The company appeared to be caught, like a rodent freezes in the glare of headlights, without a coherent response.
Since the initial tsunami of coverage, the board has appointed a high-level review panel to investigate what happened, how it happened and, presumably, make recommendations. With this action, Fonterra seemed to be getting its act together. However, there was another significant development today—one which raises a new series of questions. The head of the company's manufacturing division, Gary Romano, resigned.
The timing of Mr Romano's resignation is a bit strange. You'd normally expect staff to remain in their roles, pending the outcome of any review. However, Mr Romano has quit. Whether he jumped or was pushed is unclear. But that hasn't stopped the trial by media and finger pointing, as unproductive as it may be. The media needs to realise that it has an important role to play as an influencer. Rather than speculate and risk ruffling even more feathers, the media needs to adopt a more responsible attitude, by withholding speculative comment until the outcome of the review is known.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.