Optimism is a wonderful part of what makes us human. It’s also very much a part of corporate culture. We plan for growth, we have stretch targets, we discuss wins. Is it any wonder then, that too often organisations shy away from tough conversations, such as Business Continuity Planning (BCP) as it relates to issues and crises management?
The Covid-19 virus and subsequent economic impact highlights the need for organisations big and small to have a Business Continuity Plan in place. Now’s a very good time to open this conversation with key stakeholders, whilst they can relate. While it’s a prickly subject that can feel difficult or dramatic to address, the fact is that when you’re prepared, your organisation will be in much better shape to cope with “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, so to speak.
For instance, Golden Equator Consulting is hubbed at SPECTRUM – a connected business community with shared offices. When it comes to crisis preparedness, SPECTRUM’s been ready with plans, processes and escalation procedures to deal with a range of scenarios, in this instance Covid-19. Having a plan means that enacting operational contingencies and communicating with stakeholders to ensure continuity, becomes more straightforward. It means composure in times of challenge, as opposed to mayhem. It means that people know what they’re meant to do and they are empowered to get on with it, rather than being disrupted and feeling unsure.
Scenarios like this don’t happen every day but it does go to show that “anything can happen” in business, as in life. Business continuity, including issues and crisis readiness is an area of focus in our practice; we’d like to share with you some thought-starters, with top-line points to consider as you go about planning.
- Scenario planning and risk assessment: This involves mapping out all the possible situations that could impact your business, from hackings to hijackings. Yes, it’s a grim process but necessary. Get people from various departments involved in this, to understand potential threats from all angles. Following this, a risk assessment needs to be conducted across the business to understand risk level and potential impact to continuity.
- Communications planning: Ensure your C-suite and public spokespeople are media trained specifically for issues and crises. Recalling the worst corporate crises, often the ones which spring to mind are those where the response from leadership has been poor, late or worse, altogether absent. Time is of the essence in a crisis and preparedness is key. Having pre-written authorised internal and external communications, such as holding statements, for each issue noted on the scenario plan, is strongly advised as this will save you time and help diminish mishandling under pressure. Even if the issue or crisis is different to those anticipated in the scenarios, the very act of preparing such communications ensures greater overall fluency and confidence, as well as a touchpoint for reference, when drafting communications under pressure. Remember to also consider action you may take on your public channels, for instance your website, social pages as well as publicly running ad campaigns. Have media monitoring in place – digital and social media monitoring is particularly handy, indicating public sentiment and escalation/de-escalation, as well as enabling targeted public outreach.
- Contingency and Operations planning: It’s essential to map contingencies to mitigate issues and operational blueprints to manage issues and crises. When it comes to managing challenges it’s essential to empower your employees. Everyone should know their role and modus operandi in times of crisis, everyone from the receptionist to the CEO has a critical role to play. Make sure these roles are documented and coached. Oftentimes these roles can be quite different to everyday work, with stringent chains of command. A war room also needs to be organized to hub the crisis management team, with everything the crisis team may need to be made available, connected and secured at a moment’s notice. To improve a company’s preparedness and resilience, many organisations will stand to benefit greatly from crisis simulation work. This work can be conducted in small simulations, or company-wide.
- Hard and soft copy documentation: You’ll need your Business Continuity Plan documented, along with a repository of resources to support. These may include any number of useful documents, such as:
- Crisis team names, roles and contact details (including designated alternates)
- A company-wide org chart and contact list
- Crisis communications chain-of-command flowchart
- Network access credentials
- Revise and refresh: Your Business Continuity Plan is a live document. Update it with new team members, contact details, review new scenarios, ensure the legal team checks the statements from time to time and – crucially – ensure that employees and critical partners remain refreshed and up to date on their roles and responsibilities in a crisis.
Time spent in “peace time” is critical time saved in “war time”, where every minute counts, quite literally. In this age of disruption, planning for potential and known risks is a responsible business practice, enabling a resilient and confident culture.