Learning and Teaching about Crisis Management

I enjoy my time at MIT in the summer lecturing and learning about disaster recovery and crisis communication. This morning I am on deck but first we are getting an introduction to the course and all the great students here at the course. Sold out crowd with people from twenty countries.

Right now, we are about to learn the Basics of Crisis Management and Business Continuity from Dr. Steve Goldman.
There are no hard and fast rules. Common sense should prevail. It is an art and not a science. Thus, you must adapt this and all such information to your specific needs and organization.

Before you have an emergency/crisis/incident you can determine who what where how and why but don’t know when.

With proper planning you can survive. Think about your management unit, implement your emergency response, assemble you crisis management team and assist your business units to resume, recover and restore business operations.

Management in companies is expected to be prepared to respond to a crisis. Management needs to provide leadership throughout the crisis. They should also take appropriate actions to resolve the crisis through teamwork.

You should communicate with all affected stakeholders and deal with the human side of a crisis.

Remember back to the Tylenol crisis in 1982. 19% of J&J profit was from Tylenol. Seven people died. A VP was appointed to manage the crisis. The first thing they did was to go public, alert FBI, and recalled the drug. Set up call centers and rewards. They got 30,000 calls. They even destroyed products they knew were safe. !00 million in tables gone. They then implemented a tamper proof lid. A competitive advantage was therefore obtained by Tylenol over time as other companies had to implement the same lids. To this day, they have found out who poisoned the Tylenol. The FBI approached J&J and said please don’t recall what is on shelves because they wanted more people to get the laced capsules so they could obtain more evidence. J&J understandably demurred.

Software plans are advantageous because they are easy to access (assuming your plants or IT system doesn’t go down or isn’t impacted by the crisis). Plans are easier to access for most employees if they just get 2 or 3 pages of instructions.

In addition to combating the crisis, you must continue and restart your key business operations. In your planning, don’t forget to account for you busiest time of the year. (IE, April for the IRS). During all your response, always be communicating.

After the disaster, mitigate your risks, conduct your Business Impact Assessment and Risk Assessment. IT and business must be linked and work together. IT must be able to not only restore the applications but also the DATA.

Bring PR people in early as well. Respond quickly. Your company’s image will be determined by tour communications staff. Your response is the story much of the time.

A crisis is company’s defining moment. Define yours right because you may never get another chance.

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