disaster

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and All the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again

This past week I attended a conference of business leaders desiring to take their business to the next level. On the second day, I met a leader who lives in Pensacola, Florida and we began to discuss the oil spill and its impact to the local area. As the leader shared personal photos taken of the beached oil, like many of you, we began to discuss strategies for cleaning up the oil and most importantly its long-term impact on the Gulf Coast, the seafood industry, the tourist industry, the wildlife and possible long-term impact of such a disaster.

And yes we did discuss the politics of the matter – in that this should not have a “we versus them” political spin because it is a “WE” issue. WE are all impacted (or will be impacted) by this disaster… and perhaps for generations to come. After our discussion, I began to wonder how many businesses go into any type of depth in building a disaster recovery/crises management strategy on an organizational level as well as on a project-by-project level?

You’re probably wondering what disaster recovery/ crisis management has to do with Humpty Dumpty. Think about Humpty Dumpty being that great project… that great idea… that great solution which will propel your organization so far ahead of others in your industry that they will need to spend years just trying to recover from your advancement. Or the idea which has such a global impact that everything will be better because of the implementation of that idea! Or that new product/service which will increase your stock value by 200%.

This is Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall – setting the standard for extraordinary greatness! Then something happens within or beyond your control which causes Humpty Dumpty to fall and this fall impacts others on a grand scale.

The question becomes – did you pull together the best of the best (All the king’s horses and all the king’s men) to discuss Humpty Dumpty’s fall before he fell (strategic) or as a consequence of his falling (tactical)? Very few business leaders conduct an in-depth program on crises management/ disaster recovery/risk management associated with the various projects/products/services they desire to introduce into the market. Of course there are many reasons for such actions; however, present history tells us that failing to have a disaster recovery/crises management plan in place can have negative long-term effects on your business as well as the global economy for generations to come.

Leaders must plan for crises, that is, any dangerous events threatening injuries, deaths and financial trouble which could deeply damage or even close your company. However, if you can muster specific abilities, you can better equip your organization to overcome a crisis.

Recent crises and disasters included events that many once thought impossible. These calamities included terrorist attacks, natural disasters large enough to take out a major city and/or industry, cyber-attacks and corporate fraud. Today’s organizations must adopt a mindset of being ready when – not if – a crisis strikes. Crises occur more frequently now; they have become part of doing business. No industry or organization is safe, but you can spare your organization the most serious consequences by drastically changing how it plans and handles crisis management.

Comprehensive risk management goes through stages which require advance planning and proactive investments. First, prevent and mitigate a disaster’s damage before any risk occurs. Then prepare a robust response. Third, build recovery infrastructure. Fourth, offer an adequate response by addressing the damages sustained during the event – remember to take responsibility for your organization’s part in the crises. The fifth stage, proper recovery, requires rebuilding infrastructures to provide for the general welfare. The final stage, lessons learned/adjusting other strategies, based on what occurred, what does your organization need to do to prevent this from happening again?

Below you will find Before the Fall Strategies and After the Fall Strategies your organizations can implement to ensure you are able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Strategies for Disaster Recovery/Crises Management before the Fall

1. Risk forecasting – The field requires more precise prediction techniques.

2. Communicating risk information – Most people assume that low-probability disasters will not affect them. Enlarging the time horizon for disasters helps your employees better assess how they could be harmed. To help the owners of a production facility with a 25-year life span understand their flood risk, show them data indicating that the chance of a “one-in-100-year flood” happening during that 25 years is greater than “one-in-five”. Presenting the possibility as a “one-in-100 chance” in a single year is not as compelling.

3. Economic incentives – Cash can motivate people to protect themselves from disaster, for example, cutting the insurance premiums of Mississippians who buy flood protection.

4. Private-public partnerships – Disasters affect public and private organizations, so they should unite in advance to create mutual emergency strategies and defense plans.

5. Resiliency and sustainability – Organizations must determine if they will be able to continue to function after a sudden disaster. This question also pertains to nations, notably developing countries burdened with “low-quality structures, poor land use, inadequate emergency response,” and so on.

Mitroff (2005) recommends that business leaders go through the following Spinning the Wheel of Crises exercise with their leadership/project teams before releasing a new product or service: The physical prop for this exercise is a large wheel which spins until it hits a flexible needle, which slows and then stops the wheel’s motion. Once it stops, discuss the possible crises which could occur and what actions need to be in place to prevent such a crises and/or what actions should be taken after such a crises occurs. This tool should be part of every project manager’s toolkit for success. Each segment of the wheel lists a major area in which crises occur:

1. Economic – This crisis affects the economy
2. Informational – Information gets lost, by break-in or computer error (for example, Y2K, the millennium bug)
3. Physical – A crisis affects your buildings, equipment or products
4. Human resources – Labor issues, fraud or criminal acts generate a crisis
5. Reputational – Rumors and defamation hurt your organization
6. Psychopathic acts – Violence, product tampering or criminal behavior strike
7. Natural disasters – Hurricanes, fires, floods or mudslides breed crises

To ensure your organization covers all of its bases, combine elements (for example combine items #4 and #7); what plans need to be in place to ensure a quick and maximum recovery?

Strategies for Disaster Recovery/Crises Management After the Fall

Risk-related decision making involves weighing probabilities and benefits versus losses, creating an accurate statistical analysis and considering alternative actions. Follow these principles for perceiving, assessing and managing the risk of extreme events:

1. Appreciate the importance of estimating crises – While such calculations are filled with uncertainties, organizations need good information to deal with risk

2. Recognize the interdependencies associated with the crises – Every risk is connected to outside circumstances. Such linked dependencies create dynamic and evolving uncertainties which can mutate depending on events. Keep your risk forecasts up-to-date

3. Understand people’s behavioral biases when developing crises management strategies – People must acknowledge their prejudices to make mitigating them possible. For instance, leaders may put off dealing with possible catastrophes due to a stubborn form of denial called not in my term of office (NIMTOF)

4. Recognize the long-term impact of the crises/disaster – A catastrophe can create enduring change

5. Recognize transboundary risks by developing global strategies – In disasters, national boundaries are moot. The 2004 tsunami killed people in 11 countries

6. Overcome inequalities in the distribution and effects of catastrophes -Be ready to assist others in need

7. Build leadership for averting and responding to disasters before it is needed – Planning and preparing for disasters is far better than waiting until emergencies strike

Your post-crisis push is to get back to business; Barton (2007) recommends the following Pillars of Business Continuity:

1. When disaster strikes, you cannot possibly over-communicate with victims.
2. Be in 24/7 contact with shareholders, employees, customers, contractors and vendors.
3. Get your off-site IT recovery operations and emergency operations center up and running as soon as possible.
4. Make sure the staff receives full salaries and benefits. Give the incident commander authority to pay for “equipment, hotel rooms and consulting services” as needed.
5. Document everything, including damages. Plug in your insurance carrier ASAP.
6. One and only one spokesperson communicates. Employees should refer all questions to that spokesperson. Avoid policy infractions. Control rumors.
7. Designate psychological counselors and make them available for anyone affected.
8. Update stakeholders three times daily concerning all activities and progress.
9. Stay on top of all suppliers. Make sure they aid in the recovery in a timely manner.
10. Make sure the disaster is over before you declare it done. Consider “scenario testing” to ensure that things are again as they should be. Plan a “multi-tiered return to normalcy.
11. Assess event fallout. Establish accountability. Reward anyone who deserves it.

Now, what about “putting all the pieces together again” – we are living in a time where there is more information available to us in one day than our predecessors had to wait for years to receive. When your organization has trouble identifying solutions to a crises, do not hesitate to put the best brains together (inside and outside of your company and industry) to come up with the solution.

As an organization, your responsibilities include putting as many Humpty Dumpty’s together through creativity and innovation. And at the same time be proactive in your planning and have a through crises management/risk management / disaster recovery strategy in place just in case he does fall – being proactive in your planning allows you and your organization to survive through unplanned catastrophes/crises. Wisdom would say that your best creative and innovative ideas will come out of how you handle the crises and what you learned through resolving the issue which caused the crises/disaster.

When speaking to the business leader last week, I shared that my solution for the oil spillage crises would be to take the best minds from all the oil companies, colleges and universities, government and even the general public – put them in a room – and have them develop a solution to this crises as well as develop a standard operating procedure for ensuring that a crises like this does not happen again. This is how, together, we can put “all the pieces together again” and making Humpty Dumpty stronger and better than he was before!

About the Author

Dr. Stephanie A. Parson - EzineArticles Expert AuthorBusiness Strategist, Trainer, Author & Speaker, Dr. Stephanie Parson is the president of Crowned Grace International (www.crownedgrace.com). She and her team deliver over 35 Leadership: From Ordinary to Extraordinary™ (L:FO2E) workshops around the world. Workshops focused around their leadership methodology: Lead Self, Lead Teams & Lead Organizations. Over 2000 global leaders have attended one or more of Crowned Grace’s L:FO2E programs. Dr. Parson has also held executive level roles at Walt Disney World (Vice President), Parsons Brinckerhoff (Vice President & CIO), The Seagram Company (Director) and as a commissioned officer in the US Air Force. For more information, contact Dr. Stephanie and her team at info@crownedgrace.com. or call us at 321.251.5236 or 866.544.6257.

Emergency/Crisis Management Planning needs vary with the industry, type of operations, and regulatory applicability; however, the following guidelines can be used for any situation:

WHAT ARE YOUR HAZARDS?

The first step is to Identify vulnerabilities and hazards associated with your operation. No one understands your operation better than you. Ensure that emergency, business continuity, and security issues are considered and use this analysis to prioritize your plan development efforts.

  • You should consider the following topics, at a minimum:
  • What are your vulnerabilities to natural disasters? Depending on the geographic scope of your operation, you may be subject to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes. floods, ice storms, or all of these.
  • How would your company continue to operate in the midst of a pandemic situation?
  • What are the hazards introduced by your operation, and who may be impacted from a fire, release of hazardous material, oil spill, or explosion? Consider various events involving similar types of operations involving other entities, not the fact that it may have never happened in yours.
  • In the event that your primary or corporate office becomes uninhabitable due to a fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, power failure or other event, could your company to operate?
  • What are your security vulnerabilities?

WHAT TYPE OF PLANS SHOULD BE DEVELOPED AND AT WHAT LEVEL?

The next step is to use the results of the Hazard Analysis performed above, and determine what plan types should be developed, and which should be developed on a facility level or corporate/enterprise-wide level. For instance, site-specific fire pre-plans may be valuable for buildings and storage tanks that contain flammable contents; business continuity plans may be applicable at the corporate level.

Example programs may include the following:

FACILITY LEVEL PLANS

  • Emergency Response Plans (industrial operations), Emergency Operations Plans (hospitals, schools and universities), Emergency Action Plans (office building) describing site-specific initial response and activations procedures for potential hazards.
  • Fire Pre-Plans for buildings and process equipment, if applicable.
  • SPCC, OPA 90 Plans, RCRA Contingency Plans, SWPPP and other regulatory plans for facilities that store oil.

CORPORATE/ENTERPRISE-LEVEL PLANS

  • Crisis Management Plans describing corporate procedures for supporting operational emergencies, and for responding to corporate crises, including security, product liability, financial and other reputation issues.
  • Business Continuity Plans for corporate and regional offices
  • Pandemic Plans (often included as a subset of Business Continuity Plans)

HOW SHOULD THE PLANS BE ORGANIZATION AND WHAT IS THE APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF DETAIL?

Identify applicable regulatory requirements and ensure that your program addresses them, but remember that the primary purposes of the plans are to enable your company to respond effectively, and in the process, to ensure compliance. A common mistake is to organize plans specifically to meet the order of the regulations, when in fact, this may not result in the most logical or user-friendly format. Keep in mind that some regulations require a specific plan format or order of content, however, in many cases there is flexibility to organize the plan differently, as long as a regulatory cross-reference is provided and clearly identifies where each requirement is addressed.

Develop plans in a logical format that will be intuitive to responders who may not have had time to review them or training. A good test is to provide the plan to someone outside the organization and find out how long it takes for them to find key response information.

Ensure that plan content is comprehensive enough to provide tools needed for a response but is not so detailed that it reduces the effectiveness of the plan and results in more plan maintenance than necessary. Consider providing references and/or hyperlinks to detailed technical or regulatory information that may be needed but is too detailed to include in the plan.

Develop the content in a streamlined format with the goal of reducing the time required to read it. Bullet points and checklists are favorable to paragraphs of information.

To learn more about the important topic of Emergency Response Planning including specialty plans such as SPCC Plans, please visit http://www.emergency-response-planning.com.

By Scott David Rodgers

bp

In business, crisis management is practically unavoidable. Mistakes will be made. Accidents will happen. Products will be flawed. Acts of God will continue.

Since you can’t avoid crises, you’d better prepare for their inevitable eventuality, and: act promptly, intelligently, decisively, strategically, politically, sensitively, honestly, and with a genuine effort to resolve the issue and prevent further harm and recurrence.

BACKGROUND

As a reminder, some major crises include: Johnson & Johnson (Tylenol); Proctor & Gamble (Tampon/ toxic shock); Union Carbide (Toxic Chemicals); Three Mile Island (Nuclear); Hurricane KatrinaExxon(Valdez/ Oil Spill); the 2008 Financial Meltdown (as well as many prior Market crashes), and most recently, the BP (Oil Spill).

THE BP CRISIS

This is being written on around day 45 of the Gulf (of Mexico) Oil Spill Crisis. BP (British Petroleum) is under siege with public relations, environmental, and financial problems, as a consequence of a disastrous, deadly, contaminating, incident of unprecedented proportion. This infamous event began in late April, 2010 when an explosion destroyed the surface drilling platform, (with 11 platform worker fatalities), and shut-off devices failed to turn off the gusher of oil spewing from a severed pipe at the bottom of the sea, one mile deep.

Various strategies were tried to stem the daily multi-thousand barrel flow of pollution from the wrecked installation. Robots were placed to handle repairs at the high pressures, great depth, and poor visibility, on the seabed. The U.S. Government mobilized it’s resources (Coast Guard, FEMA, various federal agencies, National Guard, etc,), but were largely ineffective and responsiveness appeared to be “too little; too late.” BP tried multiple approaches to capping the well and stopping the oil flow. Approaches termed: “Top Kill,”:riser package cap,” “replacing a ‘blowout’ preventer,” and a longer term “relief well” is in progress (“BP Begins…New Strategy…”Bloomberg.com, May 30, 2010). So far, nothing has worked, and perhaps irreversible damage is being done to precious wetlands, beaches, and habitats for marine life, birds, animals, and birds. What a mess!

THE MANAGEMENT PERSPECTIVE

“Crisis Management” is a leadership specialty, and reputations and fortunes of individuals, governments, and private companies can be severely, perhaps irreparably, damaged if the event, public perception, and restorative actions are mishandled. The classic strategies for these types of events were largely ignored, or conspicuously fumbled. The President of BP looked bad, as did the President of the United States. Ineptness appeared to rule the day and the government, along with one of the largest energy corporations in the world, were unable to control, or resolve the event.

CRISIS MANAGEMENT

Although there is not consensus about how a crisis should be handled, there are a number of common themes. The basics are:

–CRISIS PREVENTION

The most important activity which can be taken, is to take action(s) to prevent a crisis from occurring in the first place!

–CRISIS PLANNING

Should a crisis occur, despite all your good preventative efforts, have plans in place to deal with likely, unlikely, and forecastable occurences. Appropriate planning, prior to the inevitable disaster, will help focus efforts, limit delays, and mitigate the damage. It provides a level of reassurance for all stakeholders.

–CRISIS INTERVENTION

Initiate timely, forceful, and focused actions to limit the scope and duration of the crisis.

–CRISIS MANAGEMENT

Management consists of planning, organizing, leading and controlling. In a crisis, the leadership must be clear, respected, visible, and trustworthy. Coordination and resource management are essential; project management skills are required.

–CRISIS COMMUNICATION

Honesty, transparency, and frequency are important. Deception, minimization, hiding, or avoidance are deadly. Trust will be lost when lies or misrepresentation are discovered. The press needs access, and will become hostile if spokespersons are not forthright.

–CRISIS ETHICS and CRISIS HUMANITY

The crisis needs to be handled in an ethical fashion. It is essential that morality supersede financial considerations.

The emotions, health, feelings; personal and financial impact on individuals are paramount considerations. Leaders need to sincerely demonstrate their compassion, sensitivity, and empathy for those adversely impacted. The human side of crisis will undoubtedly require immediate, continuing, and genuine support.

BACK TO OUR EXAMPLE…

The BP incident appears to have been mishandled on so many levels that it will surely be a case study on how crises should NOT be managed. BP has suffered billions in stock losses, and probable financial liabilities. The damage to business and government reputations and trust is yet to be determined, although it is appears major destruction has been done in this arena, as well as to the environment and economy.

With the high stakes implicit in major crises, managers would be smart to consider the aforementioned points; update, review, and revise their Crisis Management Policies and Plans, and be prepared. You don’t want to be in the news for your mismanagement in a crisis.

About the Author

Dr. Ben A. Carlsen - EzineArticles Expert AuthorBen A. Carlsen, Ed.D, MBA, is an experienced leader and educator with over 30 years experience in management, consulting, and teaching. Dr. Carlsen is a management consultant, and business writer in the Miami, Florida area.

Carlsen was Chairman of the Los Angeles County Productivity Managers Network, Chair of the Marketing Managers Association, and President of the Association for Systems Management (So. California Chapter). For more info visit: http://www.drben.info

Crisis mis-management truth or paradox?

This is the result of a management style that fails to consider a variety of forces at work in organizations today. Many executives and managers that I have interviewed during may career seem to have had a romantic love affair with this style of decision making, delegation, policy making and utilization of corporate resources. They seem almost proud, that this is the way they run their organizations.

I will grant you that in today’s changing business climate, it is critical that managers and their organizations remain flexible, poised to react and ready to change course with limited knowledge or advance planning. In order to remain competitive it is vital that companies shed old baggage quickly and effectively. This old baggage can be an outdated product, service, policy, procedure, employee or anything that stands in the way of effective progress. Too often progress, and the need to grow or expand, is blamed for any number of knee jerk reactions and unplanned strategic actions.

The purpose of this message is to help you determine if your predominant management style is – crisis mis-management oriented and to become more aware of the ultimate costs of this approach to running your organization, department, division or group.

I’ll bet, however, that most of you already know. If you would like a free copy of my Crisis Mis-Management Questionnaire give me a call and I’ll be glad to E-Mail it to you. (It will help you focus in on those areas where you might want to consider modification in your management style, if you feel crisis management is stealing from your bottom line or competitive posture in the marketplace.) The causes or contributors to a crisis management philosophy or business culture are:

Before you begin please keep one thing in mind. Strategy is the – what – in your organization and operational effectiveness is the – how. It makes no sense to be operationally effective while moving in the wrong direction. The last thing you need to do is to get where you don’t want to be more effectively.

O.K. The following is a list of behaviors, attitudes, actions or philosophies of crisis mis-management organizations.

One: A heavy top-down corporate culture when it comes to information flow.

Two: Organizations where everyone consistently has too much on their plate.

Three: Senior management or ownership that has their ego too vested in outcomes.

Four: Poor communication throughout the organization.

Five: High turnover at the mid and lower levels in the organization.

Six: Poor employee morale.

Seven: Organizations that have excessive politics throughout.

Eight: Organizations that are more concerned with who rather than what.

Nine: Organizations that reward incompetence rather than performance.

Ten: A lack of confidence, skill or experience on the part of managers and executives.

Eleven: Censorship.

Twelve: Unclear and/or poorly communicated goals, objectives and corporate direction.

Thirteen: Arrogance.

Fourteen: Employees and/or managers that are insecure or lack a positive self-image.

Fifteen: Procrastination.

Sixteen: A lack of accountability or organization discipline.

I am sure there are others but I am confident you get the point. The following twenty items can be summarized into just 5 major contributors. Ego, ignorance, arrogance, politics and communication style. The symptoms of crisis management are as follows:

One, you have to be in the right place at the right time to know what is going on.

Two, you are consistently solving the same problems over and over again.

Three, inconsistent customer satisfaction.

Four, low morale.

Five, excessive turnover.

Six, lots of things fall through the cracks i.e. money, decisions, people, resources etc.

Seven, a “here we go again culture”.

Eight, lots of “we and they”.

Nine, highly stressed employees.

Ten, lots of meetings, long useless meetings.

Eleven, unjustified, increasing costs of doing business.

Twelve, increased vulnerability to competition and market shifts or trends.

Thirteen, lost customers.

Fourteen, antagonistic suppliers or vendors.

Fifteen, frustrated dissatisfied dealers, distributors or franchisees.

Sixteen, lots of last minute decisions.

Seventeen, increased hidden agendas.

Eighteen, burned out or highly stressed employees.

Nineteen, increased unjustified costs of doing business.

Twenty, poor communication throughout the organization.

Well, there are the symptoms and causes. What can you do to improve the performance of your organization if you believe that crisis management is your standard operating style? Call me.

About the Author

Tim Connor - EzineArticles Expert AuthorTim Connor, CSP is an internationally renowned sales, management and leadership speaker, trainer and best selling author. Since 1981 he has given over 3500 presentations in 21 countries on a variety of sales, management, leadership and relationship topics. He is the best selling author of over 60 books including; Soft Sell, That’s Life, Peace Of Mind, 91 Challenges Managers Face Today and Your First Year In Sales. He can be reached at tim@timconnor.com, 704-895-1230 or visit his website at www.timconnor.com.