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Navigating a Crisis - Part I



Nobody likes surprises. Experience has shown, that based on a number of recent disruptive events many organizations do not have adequate resiliency programs in place, which may leave them exposed and unable to adapt quickly to changing economic circumstances.

Most boards and other stakeholders recognize the importance of having a robust crisis management program, but many are unsure of how to establish one. Recent economic disruptions have changed the way governing bodies and other stakeholders are assessing the implications to their organization. Management is being given the task of reviewing their organization’s business continuity models to determine the organizations resiliency in the face of uncertainty. The questions that each senior management team should be asking are whether their organization is ready to meet the current economic challenges and how they can thrive in this complex environment despite rapid change.

In the face of potential extreme events like terrorist attacks, blackouts, widespread pandemics and natural disasters, organizations must be prepared to sustain their operations for any event, no matter how remote the possibility of their occurrence. Given these concerns, many risk managers are asking how they can better prepare for the threats of tomorrow without compromising the ongoing demands of their business today. An organization’s risk management program must provide the direction required to operate in the current economy and provide direction in case an unforeseen event occurs.

Organizations that do not successfully balance these objectives may be unable to:

  • Leverage crisis management elements
  • Enhance the risk management process through threat and vulnerability assessments 
  • Develop a culture of resilience

Leverage Crisis Management Elements
Until recently, many organizations believed their Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) program would allow them to manage a range of uncertainties in order to achieve operational resiliency. When ERM is embedded into day-to-day activities, every level of your organization is better equipped to manage the risks that can affect your ability to reach your business goals.

Ensuring a business is sustainable and can mitigate a crisis through effective response and ultimately survive is a key corporate strategic objective. Those responsible for managing a crisis need to count on proven solutions. In the aftermath of recent events such as the current economic downturn triggered by the credit crunch, companies are grappling with a serious challenge: how do they plan for business resilience following any possible threat, yet continue to meet the ongoing demands of running their business?

This has not been the first crisis, nor will it be the last. The only difference is that the threats change. Therefore, a company’s plan should be built to deal with changing threats. This can be accomplished by applying some basic crisis management elements into the business resilience plan. Once an organization recognizes that they can employ some common fundamental crisis management elements to navigate any crisis, the likelihood of survival increases significantly.

Many businesses have found success in these challenging times by integrating crisis management elements into their business resilience plan and supporting them through their risk management program.

The key elements in developing a crisis management program are illustrated below. The most fundamental of which is Understanding the Business.

Understanding your business is critical to the resiliency of your organization. It is important that your organization step back and reassess your business by:

  • Identifying what is critical (from a people, process, and systems perspective).
  • Understanding the threats that could stand in the way of reaching your objectives, as well as understanding how vulnerable the organization is to those threats. 
  • Performing a comprehensive business impact analysis. Many companies have already performed such analyses for their tactical threats such as a natural disaster, technological failures and criminal activity or fraud. As a result, this corporate knowledge may be leveraged to understand their critical activities to combat the operational threats caused by the economic downturn. In addition, understanding what is critical, as well as having a strategy for resilience has many rewards.

For more information on how to help your business weather the economic storm, please contact me or your local MNP advisor.