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

Seven tips for cyber exercises

Cyber%201By Dominic Cockram

Cyber attacks will continue to threaten business operations in 2016, with many commentators claiming that this year we could see ‘the big one’.

Organisations are increasingly focused on understanding the impacts a cyber attack could have on their operations and reputation. Many are now using cyber scenarios in their crisis exercises to test and validate their assumptions on how they would respond and reflect on the unique challenges a cyber attack could bring.

The exercises range from fully immersive simulations, that develop and build competence and confidence, by allowing a realistic replication of the pressures, issues and uncertainty, to desktop sessions, that provide leadership teams and broader management the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the nuances of a cyber response such as the awkward language and reporting processes.

Having run a large number of cyber exercises over the last 18 months, I thought it would be useful to share some of the common lessons.

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The Crisis Management Conference 2014; Planning for Prosperity with a Coherent Crisis Management Capability

CMC2014 logo.jpgThe 2014 Crisis Management Conference (CMC 2014) will take place in London on Thursday 18th September. Delegates will be given a unique opportunity to hear speakers from the BBC, Network Rail, John Lewis, UBS, O2, UK Cabinet Office and the University of Liverpool discuss their first-hand experiences in preparing, responding and communicating in crisis. Click here to see the full programme.

Crisis management was long associated with failure and a desire to “keep covert” any crisis plans and preparations. Today, however, it is a topic of success, heralding responsible guardianship for the future well-being of an organisation’s people, performance, assets and reputation. It signals excellence in governance and leadership and is seen as an integral part of an organisation’s resilience, enabling it to thrive, survive and seize opportunity. Continue reading

When the Heat is On – Social Media Fails

twitterbirdThe advent of social media has radically altered the context in which the reputation of an organisation is managed. Social media can be friend and foe. On the one hand, social media platforms are immensely powerful channels to reach stakeholders with your planned message but on the other, the same characteristics that enable this, namely speed of communication, prevalence and pervasiveness, can also precipitate and catapult an organisation into crisis.

The way that events transpire online and, more specifically, on social media platforms are now intimately linked to how organisations fare once times get tough. With 72% of all Internet users active on social media and over 500 million users on Twitter alone businesses can no longer afford to endure the potential for either reputational or financial damages that come hand in hand with todays social media crisis if poorly managed.

So, in the spirit of learning from the mistakes of others, we outline three top social media crises of last year and examine the lessons we can learn from them.

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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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Managing the upward flow of information in a crisis – what matters most?

By Dominic Cockram

The BriefHaving worked over the last few months with some of the larger organisations in the world, both in the UK and internationally, it has been fascinating to reflect on the unique challenges presented to a “super-corporate” in delivering crisis management and crisis leadership at the top.

Naturally, one of the greatest challenges is in the management and transfer of information about the crisis.  Quite rightly, it is filtered as it percolates up to senior leadership levels but any CEO worth his salt wants to get a feel for the reality “on the ground” and a true sense of what is happening.  This is difficult to achieve from a report which has gone through several levels of review, filter and reduction and which may be given by another executive who is also not on the ground.

So a challenge is presented, not least because any CEO appearing in front of the world’s media is going to want – and need – to be armed not only with his facts and key messages but also to be able to demonstrate he genuinely knows and feels what it is like for those right at the heart of the crisis.  Empathy is a difficult thing to achieve when you have only been presented with the “strategic issues” in a rather colourless fashion.  Yet in crisis communications, it is something the media and public are looking for and can be so judgmental about.  Continue reading

Crisis Management Planning 101: Learning from Asiana’s Mistakes

By Isobel Nicholas

South Korea’s Asiana Airlines was roundly criticised in the aftermath of its response to the crash of Flight 214 on Sunday 6th July 2013 at San Francisco airport, inflicting severe damage to its reputation.  The criticism largely stems from its silence in the hours after the crash and the lack of information made available to support victims of the crash and their families as they struggled to find out what had happened and whether their loved ones were involved.

Here we review what happened and look at what lessons in crisis management planning and crisis communications can be learned. Continue reading

Lessons learned – or are they?

By Katie Collison

A key theme to emerge from the 2013 Crisis Management Conference held in London in May this year was post crisis learning. The distinguished panel of speakers from the UK Cabinet Office, Unilever, Goldman Sachs, the BBC and Bank of England, unanimously agreed that it is all too easy to identify what went wrong in a crisis response or an exercise, but far harder to ensure that the lessons so welcomed are actually turned into change and implemented to protect and prevent the same things happening again. Continue reading

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