Anatomy of crisis
We take the view that a crisis is a process, which has run amok. For it to be harnessed, the underlying cause must be identified – which may be quite trivial: an error in a contract, a time schedule which forgot to take account of local traditions or officious officials. The cause may also be extremely complex. In both cases Stuhr CMC has the methods and routines required to bring derailed projects back on track.
However, there are other types of crises, which demand something entirely different. They may be caused by something beyond what we, in our part of the world, usually refer to as common sense.
Stuhr CMC has handled crises, which arose simply because they were meant to. In other words, the other party did not perceive the crisis as a crisis, but as a very welcome development! The other party may be planning a lucrative court case even before the contract is signed, consequently bureaucratising the process in the extreme, for example by changing commas in otherwise spotless technical drawings to provoke year-long delays. There are many and extremely crafty ways of achieving just that.
This is where consensus thinking fails, and where what is needed is in-depth knowledge of claims management, very special experience and a nose for “reading” what is actually taking place on the other side of the table as well as the ability to turn local culture into an ally rather than a drag. Not to forget ready access to the local grapevine.
So crisis may mean crisis or quite the opposite. Stuhr CMC takes pride in predicting when it will be the latter.
Horror stories from real life
We have seen quite a lot here and there.
For example, we know that black cotton soil is soil which expands dramatically when it gets wet. In Sudan, a Danish company built a factory on top of such soil. The soil right underneath the building became cold and damp and the whole factory rose up, causing pillar foundations one meter in diameter to snap like matchsticks. This left quite a few strings of responsibility to be sorted out. But we would much rather have been in on the project from the outset.
We know that a Saudi Arabian customs officer may be suspicious that, in a consignment of double-walled dairy tanks, alcohol is concealed between the walls - and that he may grab the nearest flame cutter and make inspection holes in each and every one. And we know what ensues in the way of heavy mediation and discount discussions.
And we always remind our clients that enclosing the fitters’ coffee machine – to mention one example – in the container is not a terribly good idea unless it has been included in the list of customs-exempt goods. Clear rules have been violated, the case may drag on for years and require the payment of disproportionately large fees to an on-the-ball official in a poor country.
We know from experience that local workers are unable to meet time schedules during Ramadan as fasting people are too weak to work at their normal speed. That you should never build anything whatsoever in a wadi – not even if it hasn’t rained there for a generation or longer. One day it will rain, and then your building will be sitting in a river.
And we are amazed that nobody asks any questions before starting to build on what subsequently proves to be an ancient burial site. The outcry and the delay are equally dramatic in all parts of the world.
We always start by asking about everything – just to be on the safe side. Because detail matters in all projects, exotic, European or Danish. Perhaps overview is really about insight into all the details – allowing you to tame the unpredictable.
© 2017 Stuhr CMC A/S. Stuhr CMC is a consulting business. We advise on contracts and contract-related issues, conflict management, arbitration cases and much else besides – we possess extensive hands-on experience in this field. We are not a law firm in the traditional sense, and we do not undertake tasks, which require a practising certificate issued in Denmark.