Engaging the top team in crisis preparedness

Crisis-Management-Insights-Survey-2015-011.pngChief executives, managing directors and other senior business leaders are failing to engage fully in crisis preparedness and risk undermining their organisation’s ability to manage crises, according to Steelhenge and Regester Larkin’s latest crisis management survey.

The survey of 170 large companies from 27 countries revealed that big business understands the need to prepare for a crisis, with 86 per cent of respondents owning a crisis management plan, 59 per cent carrying out crisis training and 68 per cent conducting crisis exercises at least annually. It is clear that crisis preparedness is high on the agenda. Continue reading

Volkswagen: a long road to recovery

By Dominic Cockram

220px-Volkswagen_logo_2012.svgIt has certainly been a busy few days for the VW crisis management team. If they had a mature and practiced crisis preparedness capability in place then hopefully they will have been hard at work for some time now. Suggestions are that others did have some foresight that all was not well in the industry from the roadside test reports, so there may have been some early work going on.

But, in facing this potentially overwhelming corporate crisis, how should VW set about managing the crisis, identifying their priorities and ensuring their reputation recovery? Continue reading

Joining the crisis dots – How simulation exercising can create a culture of crisis sensitivity

By Dominic Cockram

As a crisis dotscrisis management professional, I have worked with many different crisis teams over the years. What has become apparent is that, in the majority of cases, those conducting the operational response to a crisis (and by that I mean at both the bronze/operational and silver/tactical levels) have little understanding of the strategic drivers, priorities and concerns, and potential challenges of the executive or ‘gold’ level.

This lack of understanding can fail to give those protecting the organisation’s license to operate what they really need to fulfil their role. Resulting in delayed escalation, incorrect assumptions and the transmission of skewed information to the top. Continue reading

Situational Awareness – supporting the CEO’s critical decision-making in a crisis

By Dominic Cockram

Situational awarenessThis blog is the second in a series that looks at the challenges of managing information in a crisis and how to ensure the top team gets the information it needs. The first looked at “Managing the Upward Flow of Information in a Crisis – What Matters Most?” Here managing information to build situational awareness is under the spotlight – how to pull together that cohesive and informative picture that gives the boss just what he needs and no more.

It is a fact that almost all crisis teams find information management one of the greatest challenges in responding to an incident. Why does this matter? It matters because effective information management is the bedrock that allows the critical decision-making by the strategic crisis management team that will lead an organisation out of a crisis.

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Soft skills in the crisis management environment

By Dominic Cockram

A colleague and I delivered a presentation recently at the City Security and Resilience Networks (CSARN) conference on Crisis Leadership. It was based around much of the work we have been doing recently on the decision making and situational awareness aspects of crisis management. We considered the dynamics behind decision making in a crisis and the issues a crisis team and its leader are faced with. We looked at the individual, the leader and the team as a whole, taking into account what was most sought after in a perfect situation and what the psychological realities would impose upon people’s behaviours. Continue reading

Crisis Decision Making: How wicked pressures create decision avoidance

By Claudia van den Heuvel

Strategic level decision makers often assume they will be able to manage a crisis well, purely because they make “difficult and risky decisions” every day. In theory, crisis decision-making should follow the standard decision process of: assess the situation, formulate various options or strategies and implement a choice. Often however, this doesn’t happen. Continue reading

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!

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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

Crisis Management Teams: None of us is as smart as all of us

By Katie Collison

TeamMeeting

When a crisis hits, there are those whose immediate reaction is to want to stand alone and fight it themselves. However, the most successful crisis responses are those undertaken by a pre-established and well-rehearsed crisis management team, not one or two individuals. Last month on this blog we explored the personality types of the crisis management ‘loners’; here we explore why it is so vital for crisis management to be a team mission, and not an individual pursuit.

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