Project Management

The Oil Disaster (Part 2)

Bob Weinstein is a journalist who covers technology, project management, the workplace and career development.

On July 15, 85 days after the BP oil disaster began, the company finally capped the leak. During that period, more than 184 million gallons of oil were released into the Gulf Stream, corrupting the environment, killing wildlife and putting thousands of people out of work both temporarily and--for many--permanently.

Since the spill began, President Barack Obama, his administration and BP have been raked over the coals for mismanaging the disaster. Most polls conducted by television networks and professional marketing firms criticized Obama for bungling the disaster. An ABCNews/Washington Post poll found that most Americans rate the response to the BP oil spill far worse than the response following Hurricane Katrina.

The BP oil spill disaster was far more than one of the biggest environmental disasters of all time--it’s also an ongoing, tragic saga of bad crisis management, compounded by the absence of government regulation and intervention. Environmentalists thought the Exxon Valdez spill was the textbook case of bad crisis management, but the BP mess tops it. As time goes by, more pieces of the puzzle are uncovered, driving home the fact that the crisis could have been prevented, quickly stopped or contained.

In Part 1 of this story, risk management expert Gary W. Patterson said that BP managed to make every classic crisis management mistake in the book. …

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"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself."

- Charlie Chaplin