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Crisis management plans are great. But if we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that they aren’t enough to ensure that your clients are prepared for a protracted crisis.
After all, when a crisis breaks, it’s execution that matters. And seamless execution entails regular training in crisis-like conditions. How to help your clients create those conditions?
For starters, it’s not easy – the dictates of social distancing and various lockdown restrictions have only made it harder, as well. Replicating the painful realism of the crisis situation takes time, effort, and planning.
For instance, your client’s crisis teams might need to recruit external actors to make simulations realistic and meaningful. Those stakeholders might include customers, suppliers, responder organisations, not to mention your client’s internal crisis team as well as its senior executives and board members.
The rationale, here, is to trial how all of those actors would react to one key aspect of the crisis situation, namely the fire hose of information that accompanies crises. Not only does information come from all sources, it flows haphazardly to decisionmakers.
Adding external suppliers and customers, in particular – highly relevant in this COVID moment – serves the purpose of previewing to your clients how information comes from external sources, sources that might have a different set of priorities. Priorities which might actually conflict. And so, out of the exercise, clients might begin to understand how to correct for external stakeholder bias in their own crisis response.
Another advantage: no matter how top-down your client’s crisis decision making apparatus is, there will be ample opportunity for rank-in-file team members to make individual decisions, often at a moment’s notice. Structurally hierarchical teams might have team members who are not prepared to make those kinds of decisions, which might lead to sun-flowering, where team members wait for others before executing.
As such, the effect of these trainings will be to teach your client’s crisis team how to go off script intelligently when need be. Also, if these simulations yield deviations from the pre-existing plan you’ve helped formulate, your clients can document what they’ve done, why they’ve done it, and the results of doing so. Those findings will strengthen the updated plan.
Along those lines, all-staff crisis simulations provide invaluable trial and error learning (in a relatively controlled setting) for all of your client’s employees. Remember, everyday employees are often de facto “first responders” when crises begin. And so, trainings prove a good way to gauge their capabilities as well as their potential need for resources, e.g. more personnel, systems, tools, equipment, etc.
COVID-19 adds another complication to this resource availability question, as well. In pre-COVID times, clients might have gotten away with paper-based crisis management plans. But not anymore. They need key content in digital form, made available to them on apps that they can access wherever they are, in the office, at home, around town.
These same solutions also have to enable remote training if your clients aren’t yet back in the office. Luckily, the right solution will let your clients run scenarios and role play, wherever they are. There are more considerations than that when adding crisis management technology to your consultancy practice. To learn more, download our Buyer’s Guide to Crisis Management Software.