What business leaders can learn from the NFL’s latest response to the concussion crisis
Not all crises are easily or quickly resolved, and new actions and decisions could be required to address the latest developments.
That happened yesterday when the NFL and NFL Players Association announced they had agreed to change the league’s concussion protocol. The move came “following a joint investigation into the procedures after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered what was described as a back injury against the Buffalo Bills last month,” CNBC reported.
Crisis Communication And Management Lessons
Business leaders can learn several lessons about managing and communicating about their corporate crisis from the NFL’s latest actions to address the latest developments in the decades-long concussion controversy.
Regularly Review Protocols
Don’t assume that the policies and procedures for addressing a crisis last year are still appropriate today.
“Football is a contact sport in which there is a risk for traumatic brain injury. Nonetheless, concussion protocol must always be reviewed and updated by medical experts in the field to ensure that the health of current and future generations of players [is] well protected,” Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, health expert and CEO of internal medicine practice Dr. Nesochi LLC, said via email.
“An important lesson for any organization is that leadership plays a crucial role in establishing, consolidating, enforcing and reinforcing a clearly defined safety protocol that cultivates a culture of health and safety for all members. organisation.”
“This security framework and these guidelines should be regularly evaluated and modified as necessary,” she advised.
Explain why new policies or procedures were needed
Don’t change your company’s approach to a crisis without explaining why the change is necessary.
“The league and players’ union said in a joint statement on Saturday that “while the investigation determined that team medical personnel and unaffiliated medical professionals followed the steps of the protocol as it is written, the NFL and NFLPA agree that the outcome, in this case, is not what was intended when the protocols were written.
“As such, as has been done in previous cases, based on the advice of the parties’ respective medical experts, the protocol will be amended to improve player safety.”
Under the new protocols, players won’t be able to compete if they suffer from ataxia, which describes a lack of coordination caused by poor muscle control, according to CNN.
Put things in perspective
Responding to a question at a fan forum in London on Saturday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell described the league’s “intensive focus” on the issue over the past 15 years and said its medical protocols had served as models for other sports.
“Our job is really to continue to modify them as the medical experts say or other experiments say. [that] it’s something you can do differently,” he said.
When policies or procedures change, it is a crisis communication best practice to explain how they will change the organization’s approach to the crisis.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said at a Saturday press conference on the new concussion protocols that the league “will take a ‘conservative’ approach to excluding players.
” He recognized [that] players who may not have suffered brain damage could be excluded anyway if ataxia [impaired coordination] is present,” CNN reported.
Sills said, “…let’s go ahead and assume it’s from the brain, and we’ll hold somebody down. Because if we’re going to get it wrong, we’d rather put in someone who doesn’t have a brain injury, but we’re being careful, than put someone who might have a brain injury and we couldn’t diagnose them .”