Have you identified what your biggest challengers are when it comes to crisis management preparedness?
At PreparedEx, we have thousands of hours of experience analyzing crisis management programs and have created a list of critical gaps that exist throughout almost every sector. One of the key gaps we see is decision-making, there are many others too. In this short blog we touch on just four of the common gaps that we have found.
1. Not Having a Decision-Making Process Pre-Determined
Responding to a crisis without a pre-determined decision-making model or having to respond to a crisis with a new decision-making model that has not been previously employed by your crisis management team is in effect putting your organization at a great disadvantage. Valuable time that could be used to stabilize the situation and start the recovery process will be lost. This is a mistake that can be rectified. There are several decision-making models that have been used successfully by corporate and military organizations during times of crisis. These models include the 5-step, 7-step, 8-step process, and variations of each. While any of these decision-making models can be effectively employed by your organization, to a large degree your success with employing any model will largely be determined by your team’s familiarity with the model’s process. That is, the crisis management team needs to conduct exercises employing the decision-making model selected by leadership and incorporate different scenarios so team members will have a good understanding of the process and their roles and responsibilities before an actual crisis occurs.
2. Briefing Cycle Discipline
One of the more important objectives the leader of the crisis management team should establish early during a crisis is the briefing cycle discipline. Setting an operational rhythm for the response, so that meetings, briefings, Situational Awareness (SA) dissemination, press releases, conferences and the like can be arranged coherently. The crisis management team may not sit in continuous session, and it can rely of a variety of supporting systems to implement actions, report on their impact, and deliver information updates. Significant changes in SA will need to be signaled clearly and quickly.
3. Not Having a Fully Equipped EOC
Strong management will be needed during EOC operations and it is essential that the EOC is fully equipped and activated as soon as possible to ensure that rapid decision–making can occur. During the incident response phase, the real-time tracking of incidents and response resources is critical and a full-up communications capability (including radio communications with field units) should be in place in the EOC at the outset of the crisis. An operations log or Master Events Log (MEL) display capability in needed to fulfill the requirement of documenting, tracking, and managing the response to an infinite number of concurrent incidents.
4. Not Having Access to an Alternate EOC (Emergency Operations Center)
Damage to the corporation’s EOC does not absolve the crisis management team of its coordination responsibilities to restore continuity of business operations, or its responsibilities for protecting the safety of its employees and the public. All corporations need to identify alternate EOC locations. The selection of an alternate EOC location should be based on the same factors as for the primary EOC.
“The EOC is really a place where uncomfortable people meet in cramped conditions to play unfamiliar roles; making unpopular decisions based on inadequate information in much too little time.” Anon
What about your virtual EOC? I’m sure by now you have had plenty of practice with regards to managing the COVID-19 pandemic virtually.