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Don’t make a crisis worse than it has to be

Last month’s A-level results were a fiasco which may also have implications for years to come. But as this LinkedIn post pointed out, it was a crisis made so much worse by not being handled with the accepted best practice.

We all need to learn to own problems from the outset. When we blame others, they turn against us and leave us in a worse position. If you’re in charge, accept that the buck stops with you. And don’t blame inanimate objects either! Data and algorithms advise, they don’t make decisions.

We need to show empathy and incorporate it into our plans. It would appear that in the A-level results crisis, there was an obsession with year-on-year consistency at the expense of practical human outcomes. With no exams, there was no opportunity for individual students to mess up randomly, so of course the average would be better. Marking everyone down to compensate made no sense.

Plan for a foreseeable crisis. If the crisis doesn’t happen, consider that a good thing, not time wasted in planning for it. Risk assessments are a chore, but they save careers and lives.

As the author points out, “an organisation is defined by the behaviours it tolerates. Reputational recovery can hinge on doing the honourable thing.”