Sunday, August 1, 2010

Executive rehearsal of crisis plans

There are countless cupboards of costly crisis management, risk management, business continuity, emergency management, issues management and product recall plans that sit gathering dust on corporate shelves. These plans are simply no use unless the people using them are trained and tested. Crisis-prone organisations are exposed and vulnerable without a process that assures continual review and testing of plans.

It is not just organisations involved in oil, resources, transport or manufacturing who need executive training for crisis management. Organisations operating in hazardous industries invariably have and test crisis plans, but it is amazing how many businesses in the service sector such as banking and finance, legal and accounting have never tested a plan or a team.

A large corporate legal firm recently had cause to face its own internal crisis with the rapid departure of a number of senior partners following an issue of ethics. Countless media arrived in the plush foyer and the crisis lingered for many weeks. There may have been a crisis plan in place but very few of the senior management partners had ever practised their response to such a situation. Damage control took far too long and their client base was seriously affected by the loss of reputation.

The major problem faced by crisis management leaders in every organisation is the difficulty in getting team members together to train and practice. The most successful plans are those that make sure the team rehearses as a unit. Where the CEO makes himself available for the Head Office team training process, the organisation can be assured of a positive and committed result. Live leadership involvement is a great team builder.