Safe to say the management team at Maclaren is having a terrible week. On Monday its US subsidiary issued a press release announcing a recall of every baby stroller it has sold in the United States in the past decade — which means about one million units. The purpose is to install a cover for the stroller’s hinge mechanism, which is sharp enough to cut through a baby’s fingers should they happen to be in the wrong spot as the stroller is opened.* In fact, this has happened on at least twelve occasions.
If you didn’t get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach as you read that paragraph, you are not a consumer goods executive — or a parent. Think about all the levels on which it’s your worst nightmare, beyond your obvious concern for the children’s injuries:
Client :Insight Studio
Date :20 Feb, 2018
Skills :Project Planning
Challenge & Solution
Maclaren surely knows it has much to lose from the publicity, but it did the right thing in the US. It contacted the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Office of Compliance and asked for its help in conducting a recall under the Fast Track Product Recall Program. That saved the CPSC from conducting a detailed evaluation of the product, and allowed the company to get out in front of the story as it hit the press.
Engage a reputable, independent, outside investigator
Once the study is complete, make it available to the baby stroller industry at large so that all companies involved in the manufacture of strollers might benefit from it. – John R. Hall, retired chairman, Ashland Incorporated
Hire a crisis management expert
charged with setting up and training a permanent, internal crisis-management team comprising people from the operations, marketing, IT, security, and legal departments. – Ian Mitroff, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business
Announce the recall in paid advertisements
as well as issuing the joint press release with the CPSC. While the CPSC does not allow ads announcing a recall to be marketing tools, the agency would allow language expressing the company’s commitment to its customers. – Alan H. Schoem, former Director of the Office of Compliance at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
As for all the other fronts of the crisis noted above, we don’t know what Maclaren’s management will do. But thanks to Harvard Business Review’s archives, we know what they should do. In 2001, HBR published a case study called “When No News is Good News,” and asked four experts to advise on the issues it raised. It’s the fictional story of, you guessed it, a baby stroller manufacturer deciding what to do after a highly publicized accident involving one of its products. A few nuggets from those experts:
Improve sales & operations & production planning
Determine the right inventory level
Optimize the supply chain for perfect order planning
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