The best way to save time in a crisis
Best practice crisis response requires organisations to be well prepared and agile. Senior management teams know well that time seems to speed by in the maelstrom of a crisis.
The key to giving yourself more time to devise the best strategy and manage the crisis in the best possible way is to plan ahead. This seems logical in practice, but many
crisis management teams tell me that it’s impossible to know what crisis is going to hit and therefore impossible to be fully prepared.
While the exact nature of the crisis facing you might not have been foreseen, there are ways to get ahead. In fact, in my experience of crisis management over many years, there are three specific areas that drain crisis response time more than any other.
- Finding the expert resources you need. While contacting the primary contacts in your crisis management team might be an easy first step, many organisations have given little thought to the extended team of experts they might need to call upon in a crisis. This is not only about having considered what kind of expertise you might need, it’s also about knowing they can be called upon at short notice and relied upon to deliver. Trying to find the phone number and get hold of an expert wastes valuable time when you’re dealing with a crisis and it’s something that can be addressed easily in advance.
- Getting communications drafted and approved. Saying the right thing is as important as doing the right thing in a crisis, but effective communications are often hampered by the time it takes to draft, review and approve holding statements, Q&As, social media posts and other crisis materials. Devising draft statements in advance of a crisis, even if they need to be tweaked to suit the exact nature of an incident, will save valuable time. Even more importantly, ensure these draft statements are pre-approved by senior management and your legal teams to ensure they can be released as promptly as possible. Look at your risk register and check that you have media statements and social media posts drafted, approved and ready to release for all of your top risks. I’ve seen many crisis management teams struggle to get a response out promptly and, from a slow start, they find it hard to get a good handle on the communications around an incident.
- Spending time wondering how it happened. There is a natural temptation to want to investigate how and why a particular crisis has occurred, and linked to that to find out who or what is to blame. There will be time enough for that kind of investigation in due course, but it should not be the focus of your initial crisis response. The fact is something has happened and you need to deal with the reality of that situation, and fast. It’s the job of an effective crisis team leader to shut down the ‘why did it happen’ conversations quickly and get the team to focus on the strategy for responding.
Addressing these three time drainers in advance of a crisis can significantly improve your crisis response. There are many more ways to prepare effectively, but start here and you’ll be tackling some of the biggest blockers to best practice crisis response.
If you’ve already dealt with the above, consider auditing your entire crisis response plans, processes and procedures to identify more time savers. A crisis exercise (desktop or full simulation) is another great way to identify critical ways to save time in a crisis.crisis communications, crisis exercises, crisis management