Five Simple Steps to Make Your Crisis Plan Actionable

    

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It’s very sad how much blood, sweat and tears have gone into beautifully crafted crisis plans – which, in the face of a real threat, were completely ignored in favor of ad-hoc decision-making by the crisis team.

In our last blog we looked at the five simple steps to developing relevant and usable content for your crisis plan.

This week, we’ll examine what it takes to make that plan accessible, usable and actionable in the moment of need.

STEP #1: Don’t make the plan too long!

There’s an understandable desire on behalf of crisis plan authors to cover every eventuality, every detail of what might happen.

Resist that temptation.

In the moment when a real crisis emerges, when the problem is being inflamed and spread by social media and the team is scrambling to get a response in place, there is no time to sort through pages and pages of a crisis manual.

What you are looking for is crisp, clear and unambiguous protocols, guidelines and resources – all readable and usable quickly.

STEP #2: Lists and forms are easier to use than pages of narrative

Again, there is neither the time nor the appetite among crisis team members to spend time to plow their way through a plan which is the equivalent of a Russian novel.

No matter how good the thinking, dense pages of text are not helpful when the moment of truth arrives.

What you really need are:

  • Action steps and guidelines in checklists.
  • Forms which are designed to make it easy to share information.
  • Clear, bullet-pointed protocols on who to get involved and at which point in the crisis.
  • Third-party resources identified and listed.

STEP #3: Have the plan accessible on a mobile device

We have a self-interest on this point, as we own the award-winning crisis management app, In Case of Crisis.

However, it doesn’t make the general point any less true.

I was talking recently to a happy In Case of Crisis user at a major airline. He revealed that before they began using the app, in the event of a crisis out of regular business hours, team members would have had to drive into the city to retrieve the binder from the office.

Yikes!

The one item that you can guarantee all team members will have in their possession at any time is their smartphone.

Doesn’t it make sense that this is the device that allows them to access and activate a crisis response plan with a few simple clicks of an icon?

STEP #4: Not everyone needs access to all the plan materials

Once you embrace that best practice in the digital age means having your crisis plan accessible and activated via your mobile device, then other steps in making your plans actionable become possible.

In Case of Crisis allows you to allocate responsibilities and access to information according to the roles of team members.

For instance, many people on the team could have the ability to report an incident – think about ushers at a concert, managers at a restaurant chain or hotel employees.

However, only the crisis team and senior management, who are trained and prepared to handle the response, have access to the tools and resources to manage the crisis.



STEP #5: Deploy online collaborative tools

Having your plan accessible and activated via digital technology also gives you the opportunity to use tools that make the team work more effectively – tools that are not available if you have a paper-based plan or it’s stuck on a share-drive.

The In Case of Crisis app has a chatroom, so that the team can plan and respond collectively – all in one secure location, rather than the motley collection of messaging apps that the team would use in their regular duties,

It also has an active shared checklist that is updated as tasks are completed or new actions identified, complete with named owners and deadlines.

Plus, the polling feature can be used to gather information - everything from checking on the safety of team members to establishing who is available for an important meeting.

Let’s adopt these five steps to end the abuse and abandonment of expensive crisis plans!

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About The Author

Mike Hatcliffe is founder and president of The Hatcliffe Group, a reputation, issues and crisis consultancy. Previously, Mike spent nearly 25 years with two of the world's leading PR agencies. Most recently, he spent 10 years at Ogilvy, as managing director of its US corporate practice, and before that 14 years with Ketchum in both the US and the UK. Mike has worked on crisis and reputation assignments with a range of blue chip companies, leaders in their fields, including LG Electronics, Wells Fargo, Carlsberg, Zebra Technologies, CDW, Quintiles, Rockwell Automation, Unilever, Pepsico, Deloitte, Grant Thornton and HSBC.