Most managers want to do what’s right for their organisation. Yet some struggle with exactly what needs to be done to protect against the reputational and organisational damage threatened by a crisis or major public issue.
In response to this challenge I have developed a new concept called Crisis Proofing, which focuses on the role of executive managers and the practical steps they can take to secure proper protection.
Research shows senior managers recognise that the best crisis management is to take steps to help prevent a crisis from happening in the first place. But how to do this? How to manage both preparedness and prevention? And what should remain in the executive suite and how much can be delegated downward?
Crisis Proofing has emerged to help answer such questions. And to help move the focus of crisis management leadership from tactics in the war room up to strategy in the board room. It’s introduced in the new book Crisis Proofing: How to save your company from disaster which spells out how the role of senior managers in crisis prevention and reputation protection has never been more important.
Yet many companies continue to leave crisis management in the hands of operational managers or technicians with little expertise beyond what to do when things go wrong. Corporate crisis management traditionally has a strong emphasis on tactical element such as crisis manuals, table top simulations and a well-equipped war room. However leading companies are now shifting from reactive crisis response to proactive crisis prevention and that demands a new involvement from the executive suite and the board.
But progress is slow. A global survey of board members published early in 2016 found that fewer than half of the non-executive directors reported they had engaged with management to understand what was being done to support crisis preparedness. And only half the boards had under taken specific discussion with management about driving crisis prevention.
The other key factor driving increasing senior executive engagement has been acknowledgement that most crises which threaten a company are not unexpected events but are, in fact, preceded by clear warning signals, which are frequently ignored. Together, these two factors – that most crises are not truly unexpected and that most are avoidable – fuel the move from the operational emergency context of the war room to strategic planning in the board room.
So what’s needed to help move management focus from crisis response to crisis prevention? One answer is the Crisis Proofing approach. Most managers aren’t looking for a textbook analysis, or yet another how-to manual on tactics. The new book Crisis Proofing is neither a textbook nor a manual. It’s an informal conversation at executive level which shows how responsibility for protecting the organisation lies absolutely in the C-suite.
It gives practical advice on how senior executives can provide participation and leadership from the top. And, faced with the fact that one in four organisations which suffer a major crisis going out of business, it provides a realistic blueprint for how to save your company from disaster.