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Common trends and weaknesses in crisis preparedness and business resilience

Victoria Cross, managing partner, Instinctif Partners’ Business Resilience team, discusses the top trends which have emerged from the company’s CrisisOptic and RecallOptic online diagnostic and benchmarking tools over the past year.

In the year since the CrisisOptic and RecallOptic tools have been available, we have helped over 50 businesses and organizations to quantify their business resilience. Three areas have emerged as common weaknesses in crisis preparedness and business resilience strategies and the following article looks at these in turn:

Post-incident review is a weak area

A score of 100 percent is the highest that can be achieved in each category measured, with the Review category (conducting and learning from a post-incident review) being identified as the most common area of weakness. Many of the companies obtained a low score in this area, with some even scoring zero. The average score was 50.7 per cent.

Interestingly, although overall it might be expected that larger companies would generally score more highly, size has not proved a clear indicator of preparedness. In fact, we have seen both global brands and small manufacturers scoring zero in this category.

Whilst it is tempting for crisis teams to quickly disband and move on with the day job when a live response is over, good post-incident practices can help all businesses learn from the experience. By conducting a post incident review, either via a face-to-face workshop or questionnaire, organisations can refine their processes, formalising approaches that worked well, filling gaps and removing obstacles.

Communication issues

Communication was the second lowest scoring category. Again, we found gaps in capability mirrored across both small and large companies. An average score of 67 percent flatters some of the lowest scoring organizations, with several scoring below 50 percent and some scores dropping as low as zero.

Good, clear and targeted communication is essential in a crisis situation. Best practice requires thorough preparation and ongoing relationship building with key stakeholders so that communication in a crisis is fast and effective. Management of social media channels in a crisis is a common gap due to the very different requirements in a crisis compared to marketing communications, which often dominate social channels.

Mixed results when it comes to governance

Although the average score across all responders for the Governance category was 77 percent, this once again masks scores as low as 30 percent. Good governance is essential for effective crisis management. Businesses really need strategic direction from the very top of the organisation to ensure a common approach to risk and crisis across the business.

Key considerations and recommendations

The following are important recommendations for organizations to consider for making improvements in the above three areas:

Review

  • Incorporate a thorough post-incident review process into your crisis procedure;
  • Allocate responsibility for managing this process to a specific person or committee;
  • Include sharing the lessons learned across the crisis team;
  • Test the revised processes via a simulation exercise.

Communication

  • Understand who your key stakeholders are (internal and external) and what their priorities are;
  • Allocate responsibility for first line communication with each stakeholder group and sub-set to ensure your stakeholders have a clear line back to the crisis team;
  • Build relationships with stakeholders (internal and external) in ‘peace time’ to facilitate effective and fast communication in a crisis situation;
  • Develop template communications plans for each high-risk issue to increase your capacity to move quickly in a crisis;
  • In ‘peace time’ research options for calling in external resources at short notice for example additional monitoring services or contact centres.

Governance

  • Ensure that your crisis and response priorities and plans are formally captured in a written policy and that this is shared with the crisis team and others that may have responsibility for dealing with a live incident;
  • Allocate responsibility for risk management to a named individual or committee that reports to the management committee;
  • In short, have it, document it, live it!

To calculate your business resilience or recall readiness visit www.instinctif.com/optic



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