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The Mitroff Crisis

This essay examines the problems that have befallen Toyota for the last six years. These problems caused a major crisis in its reputation. In 2009, Toyota faced a major drawback from its leaky technology in designing the acceleration pedal and its installation in the vehicles. This misfortune in the acceleration pedal resulted in recall of more than eight categories of its most popular vehicles. The recall of these faulty vehicles resulted in stagnation on the sales of the other brand categories all over the globe with its North American and European production and sales plants being hit the worst. The repair of this bug in the design and the fatal accidents recorded as result of this problem brought the famous brand name under public scrutiny. It incurred heavy drops in its profit margin and customer loyalty that it had boasted for decades. Therefore, this paper will design the chronological timeline in which these crises in Toyota took place with the aim of demystifying the underlying factors that resulted in its occurrence. The revelations made in the crisis timeline are expounded by scholarly works of Mitroff and Roux-Dufort models of crisis management and they could be implemented in the Toyota brand crisis.

The Mitroff crisis management model is composed of five phrases that elaborate the process of deviating and minimizing crisis in organizations. These phases are: the signal detection phase, prevention or preparation phase, crisis or damage containment phase, organization recovery phase and, lastly, the learning phase. The crisis signal detection phase entails focusing on finding signals that show looming of a crisis in the organization. The signals identified as deviating from the normal are a part and parcel of the organization’s daily operations are isolated if they show any symptoms that depict a crisis. This phase is paramount and is taken seriously by all relevant stakeholders in the organization (Mitroff, Pearson & Harrington, 2006). The prevention or crisis preparation phase deals with delineating the organisation activities towards eliminating and minimising the organisation weaknesses that are prone to the crises and its vagaries. The elimination process is based on the warning signals identified in the first phase of the Mitroff crisis management process model. This process eliminates absolutely or prepares the organisation for the crisis (Pearson & Mitroff, 2003).

The crisis containment or damage phase commences when the crisis is inevitable. In this phase, organisations deal with damage control as a result of the crisis. To achieve proper control of damage the organisation must have well-prepared plans to prevent the damages that arise as result of the crisis from spilling out of control. The availability of elaborate plans to mitigate the size of damage of the crises in the organisation is very vital. This is because it helps the organisation in dealing with all shortcomings that face it more concisely, given that it has limited time to formulate intensive crisis management plans that would end any damage it would incur while the crises are unfolding. Phase four of the model entails recovery of the organisation. This phase makes sure the damage incurred by the organisation as a result of the crisis is repaired. The repair process takes into consideration two issues. First, the process establishes the most critical ways and actions that its management should carry out to make sure that the organisation would survive the damages of the crises. Secondly, the organisation drafts ways meant to make sure it serves its most loyal customers after the crisis. The Mitroff model last phase of learning involves a close examination of the events that started the crisis. This phase focuses on the pre-crisis, the crisis and post-crisis events. This examination enables the organisation management to learn a number of lessons that amass newer knowledge on such events. As a result, the organisation is able to enhance its capabilities to forecast, prevent and mitigate the effects of a similar crisis in the future. This phase makes organisation the benchmark that other organisations can draw lessons from or consult when they face similar problems (Jordan-Meier, 2011). 

In order for Toyota to address this problem, it had to improvise and be ready to the results that would trickle forth. This improvisation stipulates that Toyota had to come up with new ways of management that it would deploy in curbing and eradicating the crisis that had plunged it into murky waters. To support this conclusion, Roux-Dufort theory of crisis management advocates for exceptional management of crisis is used. This field of crisis management is essential and it requires that an organization has organization contingency plans and watertight pre-crisis and post-crisis management plans.  In showing the danger that an organization faces in times of crisis, Roux-Dufort  (2001) formulates a theory of crisis that draws its foundation in closer relationship with the mainstream of organization. This approach strengthens the organization’s capabilities of handling crises and its ability to cope with these changes both in the long-term and short-term. This theory is critically important to this essay. This is because Toyota needed to strengthen its organizations’ capacities to cope with lasting changes on the acceleration pedal problem that was attributed to its faulty design. This theory is the premise of this essay in managing the crisis at Toyota. This is because it focuses on specific events during the crisis. For instance, after it became eminent that Toyota could no longer shift the blame in the acceleration pedal to its customers, Toyota had to forcefully recall the faulty vehicles and redesign these components (Coombs, 2011).

As noted by Roux-Dufort (2001, p26) the Mitroff and Roux-Dufort crisis management models have articulately expressed their stand on operation-oriented and process-oriented strategies in mitigating crises in an organization. They have inculcated knowledge to the management on the explicit need to find crisis solution and learn from it to prevent recurrence of such an event in the future. This knowledge has clearly aligned with the chronological Toyota crisis timeline as illustrated in the diagram above. These models clearly illustrate the essay. This can be tested in alignment to the knowledge on crisis management procedures and processes that would eventually improve the organizations performance after the tide of crises it was facing pass. This is clear in the Toyota case. The world-class car manufacturer overcame the crises it was facing and successively restored its reputation. It attained this through operation and process oriented processes as those illustrated by the two models. This has helped to minimize uncertainties that might happen in the future. It has also set precedents for similar businesses by enriching them with knowledge expected to enhance their capabilities in managing crises of the same sort.

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