Fall Crisis Preparedness Advantage

For many businesses, Autumn is the time when you press forward to accomplish everything you’ve missed or, better, give yourself an advantage next year. Most Americans call the season Fall, which evokes another meaning of the word that is closer to failure or collapse. None of us want to fail or even think about a great Humpty Dumpty fall, That’s why it’s wise to occasionally consider and prepare for major corporate issues. To help, let’s take a few minutes to walk through giving yourself a Fall crisis preparedness advantage.

Fall crisis preparedness advantage

As with a fall, a crisis is usually rather sudden, unexpected and difficult to correct while it’s happening. If you don’t want to crack open like an egg, it helps to prepare, practice ways to minimize damage and respond as the situation demands. Ultimately, those efforts will ensure a more thoughtful, coordinated and effective response; a crisis preparedness advantage. The need is evident from the host of business, professional, societal and environmental calamities suffered over the past year. Do yourself a favor and press forward with a Fall crisis preparedness program, before it’s your downfall.

Why bother with Fall crisis preparedness?

The operations functions of most organizations recognize the risks from an operational emergency. They’ve had enough exposure to past emergencies to understand the great financial and operational cost if the emergency is not effectively addressed. That why they require serious attention to emergency preparedness, including planning and training. Sadly, less attention is given to preparing for corporate crises, even though they carry the greatest risk to organizational survival. That’s why Fall crisis preparedness planning and drills are so important. If not now, when?.  No crisis suffers fools with a corporate death-wish.

Last year, we wrote that “2017 ‘gave’” the energy and chemical industries, pipelines, railroads, and other businesses the following:

  • Workplace violence with fatalities
  • Employee theft and embezzlement
  • Sexual Assault and harassment
  • Explosions, fires, and spills
  • Hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes
  • Kidnapping of employees
  • Internal and external industrial espionage
  • Extortion of compromised employees
  • Executive misconduct
  • War, civil unrest and insurrection where we do business

 Do you see any similarities this year? Have you considered whether it might get worse next year and hit your business directly? These things happen more often than any of us want to admit. They’re also happening with greater frequency and severity.   The only real questions are when and how much. In other words, will you be next and what will be the uncontrolled damage to your organization.


Avoidance isn’t the answer

Few would have expected Houston to encounter three 500-year floods in as many years or that the latest would be a 1,000-year flood. This created corporate challenges for some companies that went well beyond the operational response. Many others would have missed the global attention spawned by the Me-Too movement. Obviously, it would have been better to resolve these issues before they became a crisis for many. However, most organizations will do well to prepare to identify and address such issues effectively, once they are known.

Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t already prepared. It has been human nature throughout history to discount risks and expect to overcome perils. The ancient Greeks recognized the risk of arrogance and excessive pride, by making hubris the common failing in most Greek tragedies. Even so, if you’re not already in a crisis, there’s still time to initiate Fall crisis preparedness. Anything you do to overcome inertia will help you achieve a crisis preparedness advantage.

The odds of a crisis confronting a company are infinitely greater than the odds of winning the lottery. So, it’s hubris to feel immune to a crisis and/or intentionally dismiss the importance of preparation for a worst-case scenario.  The rational investment is to dedicate the time and resources needed to prepare for and prevent a crisis. Doing that could easily save your company far more than you could ever win in a lottery.

Operational vs. Corporate/Reputational

The big question is whether you will be prepared when a crisis strikes. Most companies have emergency management programs in place to address the inherent risks in their physical operations. These are important and are often institutionalized much like safety and regulatory compliance have been ingrained in their processes and are a component of company culture. Testing those programs regularly and subjecting them to external assessments creates a good and solid foundation for the basic components of Crisis Preparedness that include Emergency Management, Communications, Corporate Security and Emergency Response.

emergency management

The problem comes when it’s something unanticipated or bigger than the company’s routine operational capabilities; in other words, a crisis needing a crisis management plan, crisis management team, crisis management policy, procedure, and processes, all integrated with crisis communications and public affairs. If you have these capabilities working in full coordination, you are doing well and should have an effective and comprehensive crisis preparedness program.  If you include annual training through organized exercises, you will have a crisis preparedness advantage.

Many of the examples listed above constitute a bigger corporate crisis that could seriously damage a company’s reputation and its market value. These bigger and more complex situations require elevated crisis preparedness capabilities with crisis management plans involving executive management and more sophisticated crisis communications capabilities. Here, dispassionate wisdom and experience can make all the difference.

Crisis preparedness advantage

Crisis preparedness requires thoughtful planning and the discipline to follow through. It’s what separates great companies with staying power from those with short-term focus who won’t make it through the next downturn. Even when companies have strong, well-established crisis preparedness programs, they can easily create new vulnerabilities. Some examples are when 1) they rotate inexperienced people through supervisory responsibility for crisis management, 2) crisis management team members change without experienced replacements or trained replacements, or 3) the rate of those changes exceed the frequency of the team’s group practices.

Without strong coaching and support, an inexperienced crisis management or crisis communications professional can unintentionally expose a company to extraordinary risks. These are not only career limiting for the professional, but also for the executives overseeing the function.  Unfortunately, it may take a major accident, catastrophic event or highly visible issue for these mistakes to become apparent.

Institutional knowledge and culture are key to successful and repeatable response management. If you want to avoid these issues, then at the very minimum, arm those employees or leaders with an experienced consultant and mentor to guide them through the minefields of the risks, corporate exposures, and liabilities.

To lose what you already have in crisis preparedness and organizational resilience is a terribly expensive waste.  Readiness and preparedness for a crisis are part of a larger recipe for success.  Since few investors will tolerate a preventable loss of share value, basic measures of crisis preparedness and capability maintained to specific standards are core expectations of owners and stockholders.  Make the call and get ahead of this, while there’s still time.

Contact Us

Phone: +1.833.227.4747

Email: info@corporatecrisisgroup.com

Address: 405 Main Street, Suite 730
Houston, Texas 77002