By Dominic Cockram
For any Crisis Management Team to be effective, it needs a clear and shared understanding of what’s already happened, what’s happening now, and a vision of how the future might play out. This situational awareness is fundamental to managing a crisis — indeed it is the first stage in our ‘6 Steps to Controlling a Crisis’ (read the blog post here). It may seem basic, but there are too many cautionary tales of executives who had little or no idea of exactly what was going on as they tried to make critical decisions for anyone to consider it an ‘easy’ task.
Moments after a crisis lands, information, rumour, conjecture and comment begin to circulate. Internally there may be confusion, staff may make rash assumptions and chaos can be king.
Cutting through the fog to achieve situational awareness means gathering information of value, drawn from a structured information management process. That could mean a continuum of activities, from one person answering the phone with a notepad to a fully kitted-out team, executing detailed processes to produce highly refined and developed intelligence.
In all cases, clear procedures supported by tools and training form the basis of a timely and effective process. These can include:
- Stakeholder Matrices
- Situation Maps
- Detailed charts of actions, issues and owners
Whilst situational awareness is fundamental to effective crisis management, the processes and training that prepare organisations can take many forms. Consider our work for CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research (home of the Large Hadron Collider and search for the once elusive Higgs Boson particle) in Geneva. Not exactly your everyday business.
Working with senior leadership, Steelhenge has undertaken a detailed assessment of CERN’s strategic response plan, and is building a training programme designed to ensure successful emergence from a crisis. The work for CERN takes into account cultural ‘fit’ and unique elements such as of the organisation’s ratio of staff to visitors.