Mechanics of crisis management
At one time or another we all face a crisis. We might encounter it in our personal or our professional lives. If we are in a leadership role it is more likely that the crises we face will be more complex and will affect (depending on our role) more people.
We must be ready to face these challenges.
The truth is there are five golden rules that will assist us to manage and navigate every crisis to safe shores.
Before we can apply these rules, we have to define a narrative that will define the crisis. Defining a “narrative“ rather than a “problem” helps us identify and focus on the core issues driving the crisis rather than on the many problems the crisis creates. The COVID-19 crisis is a very good example to that point – as the pandemic unfolds it is becoming clear that the medical challenge is only one of many in this crisis. Other are – financial, psychological, sociological, logistical, infrastructural and more. It is also clear that regions and countries that wrongly defined the crisis as a medical problem or narrative have been affected more than those that adopted the “all-out war” narrative. The latter have been more effective in tackling this crisis and suffered fewer consequences because this narrative constitutes ground for mobilization of all needed resources to take the correct measures in order to eliminate the crisis as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In order to identify the correct narrative we will, initially, need to conduct a primary situation assessment. This will be done by:
- Collecting all available information regarding the crisis
- Identifying and prioritizing the topics that need to be addressed
At this point we can define the narrative.
Once the narrative is defined we will continue our primary situation assessment –
- Mapping all our resources.
- Generating alternative courses of action.
The next step is to apply the “golden rules”
- IDENTIFY specific objectives and TASK teams/individuals to address each individually. Assign tasks according to comparative advantage – for example: if team “A” better at performing task “1” than team “B” and will perform task “2” not as well, but team “B” can’t perform task “2” at all, you would still assign task “1” to team “B” since if you task it to team “A”, team “B” would not be utilized and you might stay shorthanded and ineffective.
- DELEGATE and do not micromanage – this will relieve one of your more valuable resources –“management time”
- OPERATE one 24/7 Command and Control (C&C) center with ONLY ONE decision maker/commander at a time (shift for example).
Crisis multiplies the quantity of decisions that must be made a hundred-fold over the normal decision rate. Incorporating all decision-making elements will allow effective and efficient decision process
The C&C will be the only system component that will task and set the time frame for other elements
– C&C manager should not have any other specific task or responsibility.
– Have a periodic task sheet in which each element has specific tasks and goals.
– Have a structured decision process
– Have scheduled briefing with all elements.
- PRE-PLAN and PREPARE – have a set of protocols and procedures ready for every foreseeable contingency so in time of need you do not need to “invent the wheel”. The crisis will be addressed more efficiently.
- MANAGE Information – task anybody that you can to gather all relevant information to the crisis from all information source available have them analyze it and delivered with recommendations.
Remember to be flexible, adaptable, and be willing to respond to changing circumstances. Moreover, learn to manage in the crisis space you occupy rather than waiting for better conditions that may never arrive – or return.
based on a lecture by IDF Maj. Gen (ret) Giora Island