Crisis Management

A crisis can strike an organization at any time. They often arrive when you least expect it, and when one hits, it can shake an organization and its leaders to the core. All too often, leaders are unprepared for a crisis.

They are caught flat-footed and end up like a deer in the headlights. As a result, organizations bear a heavy cost to their reputations and to their bottom lines, and the careers of the leaders themselves are damaged. The good news is that you can do better. The purpose of this class is to understand the nature and origins of crisis and to develop the tools and the frameworks to manage them effectively. We will also develop the individual skills it takes for you, as a manager and leader, to perform well in a crisis.

Course Introduction


In this class we’ll deal with crises of all shapes and sizes. Although crises are often big and in the public eye — think an oil rig explosion or a car recall — they need not be so dramatic. A crisis can also be purely internal to an organization — employees are injured or killed, a union goes on strike, or the core mission of the organization comes into question — and these crises can be just as important for an organization to manage well.

We’ll develop the mindset of crisis and put your new skills to use through experiential learning. A rich set of case studies and crisis simulation exercises complement the theoretical and conceptual frameworks. This combination will help you improve your strategic thinking as well as your team management and communication skills in high-stress situations, so that when your next crisis hits — as it inevitably will — you’ll be ready.

Key Topics

  • Understand the origin and nature of crises.
  • Develop strategies for managing stakeholders, public opinion, media relations, and public officials.
  • Learn how to anticipate crisis and to scan one’s business practices for political and social risks.
  • Practice techniques for successfully solving problems in high-pressure crisis situations.

Course Faculty

Steven Callander

The Herbert Hoover Professor of Public and Private Management and Professor of Political Economy


Marineh Lalikian
Director, Stanford LEAD Online Business Program Executive Education