Over the past 25 years in commercial crisis and continuity management, some of the repeated outcomes of both real-world crises and crisis exercises I have seen are how some key, (and basic), actions at the outset enabled an effective response. Where they were not in place or not ‘known about’ by the teams tasked with responding their absence were captured in After Action Reviews as ‘lessons identified’*. Organisations facing into a new calendar year focus on goals and targets to grow and deliver on their goals and targets – that is both understandable and necessary, (I’ve spent the morning working on new projects and targets for 2024 and beyond). However, disruptions and crises don’t abide by any timelines or rules that we make. They seldom if ever give us clear dimensions or scale of impact at the outset. Reviewing risks, revising plans and undertaking exercises are typically not Q1 or Q2 agenda items. But there are quick gains that can be made to support more effective responses to the ‘unforeseen’.

Are those tasked with responding ‘current’ – are appointment holders details up to date?

The ‘dynamic’ data of plans is typically people-based. So, do current, site, regional and global plans reflect current appointments? Quarterly reviews of appointment holders can be built into simple ’email reminders’ sent to them to confirm details and their awareness that they are an appointment holder.

What needs to be notified?

This is typically based on the activation criteria for incident, crisis and continuity response plans. Are these known to those who are charged with responding? This can be ‘refreshed’ with role holders when confirming their contact details – “Are your details as a member of the crisis team correct? Please scan the plan’s activation criteria, outlined below and feel free to comment” [giving the option to comment is the doorway to engagement]

How would teams be notified [initially]?

Many plans use ‘core’ and ‘support’ structures. Those who are on the core team are notified first with others added to the response team based on the initial analysis of the core team-members. How are these teams engaged at the outset? Some organisations use event or incident management systems. These have built in notification ‘engines’ that can support initial information capture and notification based [including scenario-based notification: different scenarios may need different resources].

However, there are many means to undertake this essential task – from messaging apps through to collaboration platforms such as MS Teams and Slack. These can provide the initial ‘call-to-arms’ as well as follow-on virtual crisis management centres

Where do those who are responding ‘meet’ and build the initial information picture?

Is this ‘known’ to all appointment holders?  If you use an incident management system are those who need to access it able to do so?  If you use a collaboration system, such as MS Teams, are those tasked with responding clear on how to access the channel, join calls, access files, make posts and track inbuilt incident logs?

Waiting for an exercise to practice getting into the starting blocks could mean that you spend the ‘race’ catching up.  Scheduling in Q1 Quick Gains could be the crisis-preparedness cornerstone for 2024.

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