Monday, August 16, 2010

Capturing Crisis Management learnings – evaluating response

Post-crisis evaluation is a review of a crisis response. It is not about evaluating front-line tactical/emergency response or clean-ups. It is about how crisis teams responded. The following items are some of the issues that need to be addressed in a post-crisis evaluation review:

1. A narrative of the actual event. What caused the event?
2. How was the response managed by the crisis management team?
3. How did the crisis response relate to governance of the business
4. Was the reputation and brand of the business affected?
5. What was the decision making process based on?
6. Were human and technical resources adequate?
7. Is the organisation still at threat from the problem?
8. What were the unintended consequences from the original incident?
9. Were there any barriers to communication (internally or externally)?
10. Were all stakeholders advised effectively?
11. Was there sufficient co-operation with government?
12. Were crisis plans, manuals and procedures useful?
13. Was human resources response effective?
14. Were there barriers to crisis response from senior management?
15. Were legal and commercial issues dealt with efficiently?
16. Was the spokesperson’s role effective?
17. Were message strategies effective
18. Was media managed effectively?
19. How was business continuity and recovery managed?
20. What is in place to prevent this crisis from happening again?

A post-evaluation needs to be carried out by either outside consultants or a senior management team and preferably not by the crisis management team. The process should be dedicated to continually improving crisis management response capability, decision making, plans and protocols and particularly leadership skills. It should also ensure the crisis management team has understood its roles and responsibilities.

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.