Documents documents everywhere but not a plan in sight

By Katie Collison

Sitting observing crisis management exercises can be a frustrating business. In preparation I’ve read the procedures, I know what the team roles and responsibilities should be, understood how the team should operate, and seen the supporting tools and templates that should add structure to the response. What should happen and what often does happen are two very different things. On paper the response should be efficient, structured, proactive. The reality is rather more chaotic, haphazard, and reactive. Continue reading

Key themes from the inaugural Crisis Management Conference

By Dominic Cockram

CMC2013 - Final

The inaugural Crisis Management Conference was held last week to a sell out audience in London. Over 150 delegates sat down in the splendid surrounding of the Institute of Civil Engineers, just off Parliament Square in Westminster, to listen to a full day’s programme of speakers from the Cabinet Office, Unilever, BBC, CIPR, Goldman Sachs, Bank of England and University of Portsmouth.

The conference was conducted under Chatham House rules to allow for greater freedom in the presentations and discussion, but I have noted the key themes to come out of the day and share them here, for wider consideration.

  •  Capability Building  Crisis management isn’t just about the response.  It is a capability that has to be built and encompasses prevention (horizon scanning), preparation (planning, training and, above all, rehearsal), response (adaptability and flexibility) and review.
  • People  People with the right knowledge, skills and experience are central to an effective crisis management capability, but you have to ensure they are ready by training.
  • Prosperity  There is a positive correlation between crisis management, resilience and prosperity of an organisation.
  • Learning  Identifying lessons is only beneficial if they are put into practise so lessons identified become lessons learned.
  • Values  An organisation’s values should guide its response to a crisis as much as they guide day-to-day business.
  • Reputation  Building your reputation capital before a crisis is as important as communicating well during a crisis.

At the end of the conference sessions, an open forum was held with members of the BS11200 Crisis Management Standards committee, to encourage discourse from the floor about the British Standard in development.  A fascinating range of questions and opinions were shared and the panel left with more clarity as to what people wish to see in the Standard.

A more detailed report has been produced on the themes and lessons that came out of the day which can be found on the Conference page here.

The conference has established that there is strong interest in sharing knowledge about crisis management and encouraging debate and we are already planning another event for Spring 2014.

Finally,thanks must go to all the team here at Steelhenge for making it such a well organised day!


To see the full programme and to register for the Crisis Management Conference 2014 please click here!

Twitter – ‘The bold & the bullet dodgers’

By Rosanna Moseley

The first in a two-part series examining the contrasting fortunes of those who embrace Twitter in a crisis, vs those who hold it at arms length – Part 1: Organisations with an existing Twitter presence

A couple of years ago, discourse surrounding corporate engagement with social media was of the opinion that, if you had made the decision to interact there was not necessarily the expectation for you to respond using Twitter during a crisis. Whilst in theory this may still be true, there have been a multitude of examples that have proved that this argument is becoming increasingly invalid and actually, using Twitter can aid your response. Continue reading

Talking of Crisis Management

CMC logoThe 2013 Crisis Management Conference takes place next week in London. There has been a very strong uptake for this inaugural event which shows that there is certainly a desire “out there” to talk more about strategic crisis management, the issues organisations face and to exchange views on managing crises better.

The Conference will kick off with Dr Robert MacFarlane outlining the UK Cabinet Office view on Crisis Management and setting the wider context of why it is a key factor in any organisation’s resilience strategy.

This will be followed by speakers from the BBC, Unilever and Goldmans who will give a fascinating insight to a range of diverse contexts, experiences and learning in crisis management.  Don Randall of the Bank of England will be speaking both of his own experience and the role of the Cross Sector Safety and Security Communications programme instigated for the London 2012 Olympics.

In contrast, Sue Wolstenholme, current President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations will present the communications perspective and deliberate on how this could and should link to wider organisational crisis management activities – yet so often seems not to do so.

Professor Dominic Elliott adds the academic glamour to the day and will bring insight from his research over many years in the crisis management arena.  The last session will be a panel discussion with representatives from the British Standards Institution committee developing the new Crisis Management standard (BS 11200).  Professor Ed Borodzicz and Kevin Brear will lead this session with an open forum discussion allowing delegates to express their views and maybe influence the direction or scope of the Standard.  Time has been allowed to encourage debate and discussion  throughout the day, mediated by Conference Chairman, Dominic Cockram.

A report will be issued following the conference to continue the conversation and build towards the next seminar later in 2013, and the 2014 conference.


To see the full programme and to register for the Crisis Management Conference 2014 please click here!

The need for crisis preparedness training – thoughts from the Counter Terror Expo

By Claudia van den Heuvel

Having just returned from the Counter-Terror Expo in Olympia at the end of April, the theme that struck a chord with me repeatedly was, no matter how technologically advanced our surveillance and security systems are, true resilience and crisis preparedness will always lie within the skill-set of the crisis management team.

In a very interesting talk on human factors, Sally Turner and Julia Wilde of “User Perspective” illustrated the effect that human biases can have on the effectiveness of security surveillance. While technological ability is constantly being improved, I wonder if training of non-technical skills for performance under pressure, is given the same priority and developing at a similar pace? Continue reading