Crisis management: How to gain control quickly

Crisis management theory teaches us that information is limited the first few hours after an incident occurs, but this does not necessarily have to be the case- you can do something about it.Some industries are particularly good at operations management: There is never doubt about how many people are on board an oil rig at any given time, or their identity. There is also never any doubt about who is on a plane, who the crew is, the plane's destination and its location at any given time.

Read more: 10 things the aviation industry can teach us about preparedness and safety

Other businesses should learn from these experts. The day-to-day operation determines how quickly you can respond in case anything happens.

This is especially valid for organisations that expose their values or their employees beyond what is considered normal risk, like business trips to high-risk areas.

How prepared are you to handle an incident? Take our Incident Preparedness Test  in just 3 minutes.

Information deficiency

At the beginning of an incident, it is all about closing the information gap; the work with handling the crisis cannot begin before you have dealt with the information deficiency.

If you follow the principles for proactive crisis management, you will greatly benefit from using the information gained through daily production management:

  • You will have more information available
  • The first meeting will be more informed
  • You can more easily focus your efforts and scale the response appropriately

Operations management

The characteristic of good operations management is that someone always keeps an eye on the company’s overall activity situation. By using tools like fleet management, travel tracking and access control, you will continuously monitor

  • activities
  • operational status
  • location
  • involved personnel
  • resources

To make the transition to crisis management as smooth as possible, you should fill out this information, including factors that affect the operational security. Factors like:

  • local or regional societal or political factors
  • local governments reliability and crisis management ability
  • weather conditions

Less pressure

If you hear that a ship in the Gulf of Aden has been hijacked, you can stay calm when you have updated information that all your ships in the area is at port.

If you are a event manager arranging a company trip to the Alps, you probably know the weather conditions over there when you get to work, and you have updated information about where the different groups are located during the day. If an avalanche occurs in that region, this information will decide how quickly and efficiently you gain control over the situation.

These preparations have significantly reduced the information gap and made it possible for you to begin managing the crisis shortly after the incident has taken place. This gives you momentum: After a short while, you can provide verified information to relatives, press and the government about your company’s involvement.

Read more: Crisis communication: How to strengthen the reputation during a crisis?

Good operations management will probably discover a crisis situation faster than an unstructured one. In some cases, you will be able to prevent or restrict an incident because you have verified information at en earlier stage.   

Recycle

Most organisations already have a lot of information that will make it easier to handle a crisis in the early stages. That is why it is important to both systemise the information and make it available to everyone who needs it.

Modern, digital tools make this possible, but operations overview does not occur unless someone demands it and have a clear purpose for it. It is possible to tailor the crisis management tool to also cover the period before something goes wrong.

Some companies have operations management as a part of their daily, operative business management. Do not just wait around- this overview can easily be adapted to cover the needs of the crisis management team and erase the void between the daily operation and crisis management.

 

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By Morgan Grindheim

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Stavanger and the Police Academy and has worked with security, emergency response and crisis management for 15 years. He has led projects and been an advisor for both businesses and the public sector He has also worked extensively with change management related to crisis management capability. Morgan is a partner and managing director of One World.

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