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Nissan’s chairman arrested, CEO resigns

It was international news when Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan for tax evasion and making false disclosures to financial authorities. Ghosn, who had been the hero that built an automaker triumvirate from Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi, was ousted, and the relationships between car companies and foreign governments were fractured.

The crisis hasn’t abated with Ghosn’s departure either, as CEO Hiroto Saikawa revealed that he had been improperly overpaid. Despite promising to return the money, Saikawa resigned this week.

The incidents remind corporate communicators that chief executives are important visible faces for an organization. If a leader has to be replaced, make sure you have a crisis response plan ready to go and have engaged the necessary stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page.

– Could the organization have prevented the crisis from happening? (As best as possible, put yourself in the shoes of a manager in the organization at the time. Try not to use hindsight, which typically makes it clear what the organization could have done differently.)

– What warning signs may have been present?

– Coombs talks about issues management, risk management, and reputation management. Could the organization have done a better job in one or more of these areas?

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