Let me be clear. This is not an attack on BP. I do not have enough knowledge about the situation to jump on the bandwagon and, while I am as horrified and angry as anyone not directly affected, I also happen to believe that criticism without the complete facts is nothing more than prejudice.
Nevertheless there are immediate lessons that can be learned. For me the immediate, glaring lesson stems from CEO Tony Hayward's undertaking when taking up the post to "focus like a laser on safety." He is reported to have said, "Leaders must make safety of all who work for them their top priority." He also listed as another of his priorities "conducting our operations without damaging the environment." (Daily Telegraph, 3 May 2010.) Clearly he has failed to deliver what he promised.
This failure is ample proof - if it was needed - of two things:-
1. Intention without action is useless.
2. What a leader says does not inevitably just happen in an organisation.
It is the latter that is the key. It reinforces the point I made last week about organisational integrity. Hence the headline question. You may not be susceptible to business risks on anything like the same scale, but the consequences of a disater could be just as devastating to your reputation and/or your business - even to the ultimate extent of the demise of your business.
To reduce the risk of such failure it is imperative you find an effective mechanism to engage employees and create the shared values that ensure that everyone acts to the same standard. Employee ownership is manifestly the ideal way to engender the employee engagement and sense of responsibility to ensure such organisational integrity and minimise the risk.