Key Themes from the Crisis Management Conference 2014

IMG_0580Last month, we were delighted to welcome a capacity audience of international delegates to the Crisis Management Conference (CMC) 2014 in London.

The day had an auspicious start with the official launch of the new British Standard in Crisis Management, BS 11200 by the UK Cabinet Office and the British Standards Institution.  BS 11200 is the successor to PAS 200 and marks a significant point in crisis management as it codifies accumulated best practice into top-level guidance for organisations looking to implement a crisis management capability.

Switching then from theory to practice, delegates had the opportunity to listen to an outstanding programme of speakers from UBS, Telefonica O2, Cranfield University, the BBC, the John Lewis Partnership and Network Rail talking candidly about their experiences in preparing, managing and communicating in crises for real.

While the conference was conducted under the Chatham House rule to promote openness and sharing of experiences, we have identified a number of key themes that were recurrent throughout the day, summarised below:

Preparedness – The need to be continually prepared was reinforced by each of the speakers; it really matters. This includes creating policy, procedures, defined roles and responsibilities, identifying crisis leaders plus training and rehearsing through exercises to build experience and capability

Triggers & Escalation – The speed at which a crisis is recognised and can be escalated to the strategic decision makers has a significant effect on the outcome of the crisis for an organisation

Communication – Communication remains critical in times of crisis, not only with external stakeholders but also internally. The importance of consistency in messaging was also emphasised

Coherence – It is essential to achieve a coherent crisis response at all levels and in all aspects of informing, knowing, directing, doing, thinking and saying. The left hand of an organisation must know what the right hand is doing

Learning – Identifying lessons via a formal process of post-incident review is important; ensuring that those lessons identified become lessons learned through change is crucial


Resilience – Many organisations are moving towards the concept of resilience, which creates a culture of awareness, preparedness and adaptability at all levels, to support crisis management

Value and Reputation – The opportunity cost of investing in crisis preparedness is protected value, enhanced reputation and commercial competitiveness, all of which are at stake in a crisis

So far, the feedback we have received from delegates and speakers alike has been overwhelmingly positive and we would like to thank everyone who attended for contributing to CMC’s success. The day proved to be an excellent forum for delegates to share experience, gain insight and meet with colleagues from different organisations and sectors.

For me, the key learning of the day from those battle-hardened by the experience of managing a crisis is the value of being prepared. Investing the time and effort in ensuring the preparedness of your organisation is essential to being able to navigate a crisis successfully and reaps rewards in protecting value and reputation, not to mention the well-being of your crisis response teams. To echo the words of one of our speakers – “In the end, how your organisation fares in crisis may feel like luck, but luck is about where preparation meets opportunity”.  You can have a hand in it.

The full report on these themes, including the CMC 2014 programme, can be found by clicking here. If you wish to be included on the invitation list for next year’s conference, CMC 2015, please contact us.

About Dominic Cockram

Founder and MD of Steelhenge. Pioneer of simulation exercises with over 20 years experience in business continuity and crisis management. Dominic is an experienced speaker determined to make the world a more resilient place.

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