Crisis Management Is Critical - Here's How to Prepare

September 02, 2020

Crisis Management Is Critical - Here's How to Prepare

Synopsis
3 Minute Read

Disasters impact every part of an organization, and all groups have a role to play - including its board of directors.

Cliff Trollope
Cliff Trollope, CBCP, CRM, CAS, BA
Partner, National Leader, Business Resilience Services

Board members, like executives and managers, play an important role in helping organizations deal with a crisis, whether it’s allegations of sexual misconduct, a privacy breach, or the current pandemic.

Following a crisis, people will often ask, ‘Where was the board through all that?’ So directors must be as prepared for a crisis as executives. Boards typically play two specific roles in a crisis. The first is providing support, advice and oversight to the organization’s management who is leading the response. The other is providing hands-on leadership when, for any number of reasons, management is precluded from leading. In these situations, the board must lead the crisis response and drive the bus.

Establish a crisis management plan early

To prepare, a board must start by ensuring the organization’s leaders have comprehensive crisis management and business continuity program in place. The board must then develop its own plan, for three key stages:

  1. Create a framework— With the help of an outside expert, board members should create a planning framework for crisis response. This focuses on governance, roles and responsibilities for the board, and integrating these with the organization’s overall crisis management and business continuity program.
  2. Create a board crisis management plan — Board members should also create a comprehensive crisis management plan that clearly defines each individual's role, along with communication and decision-making processes. This must address questions such as:
  • Will there be a crisis management team within the board, or will it be the full board?
  • How will we communicate with management?
  • Do we have a crisis management expert on speed dial?
  1. Practice makes perfect — Board members must practice executing this blueprint, either through tabletop exercises or simulations, and revise it when necessary. A consultant can help board members draft a plan and walk them through it.

Critical for every organization

Recent events have reinforced the urgency of crisis preparation for every organization. We see organizations that were prepared for a crisis have ensured business operations are largely running more smoothly during this pandemic — and are poised to do so afterwards. Organizations that didn’t prepare are now further behind on their road to recovery.

The bottom line is if you’ve prepared in advance, you’re responding to a crisis. Otherwise, you’re just reacting. One is clearly better than the other.

To learn more, contact Cliff Trollope, CBCP, CRM, CAS, BA, Business Resilience Practice Lead, at 416.515.3851, or [email protected]

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