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Crisis Management Planning: Back to the Top of the Pile

By now you have all turned to leaders of your crisis response teams and asked them to activate the detailed plans they have spent so much time creating. Your organization has responded expertly. The level of communication is high, and the organizations leaders are not only reinforcing their pre-existing culture, they are forming new allies from within the enterprise, because their actions have been so powerfully proactive, they have calmed the fears of the masses and shown resilience in the face of an unseen danger. If this aptly describes your experience over the past several weeks, you are among the few who have expertly handled this catastrophic series of events.

If your experience has been something different from what is detailed above, like most, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your investment in crisis response. Place this valuable component of enterprise risk management back to the top of the pile of things to do.

Plan for circumstance that might cripple your ability to conduct business. Sounds daunting and maybe before events like COVID-19 a bit unrealistic, right? These major events happen nearly every decade and more frequently for the disruptive ones that have varying degrees of impact to business. The challenge for all of us is that you do not get to pick the timing and because they can become an extinction level event for your company or business, you must at least plan for their occurrence and more importantly your actions to mitigate the impact. 

Practice your plans, because it's the best way to validate what you have done on paper outside of the real-world event you hope will never happen. It has been proven time and again that practicing means better performance and the discipline of crisis response is no different. In the law enforcement tactical crisis response community, for which I had the privilege of belonging during my career in law enforcement, we would practice scenarios hundreds of times for one hopeful flawless moment of execution. Indeed, when you practice, this is exactly what you take into the real-world circumstance.

Execute! Sun Tzu famously wrote - "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” There are no guarantees, but there are levels of certainty. High levels of certainty only come through experience, planning and practice in this arena. 

Spend the time and energy learning about your capabilities and take a brutally honest approach in the scoring metrics and self-evaluation. Identifying areas for improvement is the start.  When evaluating your posture or the ability to respond to crisis: Plan, Practice and Execute. Times have changed and maybe for good.

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