ITS4350A - Incident Response and Disaster Recovery
Chapter 12: Crisis Management
This lesson is about chapter 12. Objectives important to this
Crisis definition and management
Involvement of law enforcement
Preparing for crises
This chapter begins with our text's illustrative company
receiving the news that several high level employees have died in
a plane crash. The point that the author makes right away is that
this is a crisis because it affects the people in the
organization. Their emotions, their sense of the organization,
their productivity, and more aspects of their business and
personal selves are bound to be affected.
The text presents a definition of a business crisis on page 341
that seems to ignore the human concerns that the author led with.
To the author's credit, the definition is adapted in the next
paragraph. It is not as visible as the definition at the top of
the page, but it is more useful in the light of the author's
Business crisis: A significant
business disruption with
a direct impact on the lives,
health, and welfare
of an organization and its employees.
The quoted definition deals with more business concerns, such as
bad press. There is a place for that kind of thinking, but we can
do better than that, so let's try.
A crisis can loom on the horizon for quite a while if it is a smoldering crisis, one in
which events build over time
to become a crisis. Some people say that the American culture is
one that manages everything this way. We let a situation go as it
will, as long as it is not a crisis, and handle it as an emergency
when it becomes one. Then the chain of events has led to what
might have been avoided, but is probably being presented as a sudden crisis, one caused by
sudden unforeseen events. That is not a good policy. I have
pointed out to you before that everyone respects a hero who
handles an emergency, but few give the same respect to a person
who prevents such an emergency from happening. I think there is a
place for both kinds of respect, and we need to honor those who
prevent disasters by providing us with adequate preparation and
foresight, as well as those who are the public face of those who
work for years to make something possible.
Of course, we should honor those who act (or choose not
to do the wrong thing) when they find themselves at a crisis.
So, we should honor both the emergent hero and the hero who plans
or looks ahead. The author does not address this, but I hope he
would agree. If we want to benefit from the works of both kinds of
heroes, we should recognize those works. That will inspire those
who see it, and may inspire further acts of heroism.
The text spends its usual space discussing building a team for a
crisis. In a sudden crisis, there is not much time to build a team
or to train one, so we can take heart in the fact that the team is
much the same team that the author wants to build in every
chapter. The causes of crises are many, so we can't always be
prepared for every possible type. Figure 12-1 in the text shows a
list of crisis contributors.
As you can see, the second largest cause in this graph (13%) is
"Other", with another 7% from "Other categories". This indicates
that 20% of the time, a
crisis will not be caused
by an anticipated cause. Like a good Scout, you should be
prepared, but keep your eyes and mind open.
Some crises, like any disaster, may require that we attempt to
secure the safety of our
staff and our customers immediately. The author points out that we
should keep records on the specific health concerns of our staff,
and that we pay attention to "head count" when moving people from
a dangerous area to a safer one. We don't want to leave anyone
behind who needs assistance getting out of harm's way. Passing a
completed head count up through a chain of command is recommended.
A crisis may cause lasting trauma,
physical and mental, to those involved in it. Counseling is often
available through human relations departments, at least for
organizations having significant health plans. For those without
such a plan, community resources should be contacted. The text
lists several federal and local agencies that may be of
A section of the chapter that relates directly to the crisis on
the first page is about succession,
knowing who takes over for someone who is unable to do his/her
job. In this case, the people who are missing are presumed dead.
More often, a crisis is more temporary, and less permanent
measures can be taken, but in either case, the organization that
has a chain of command with succession built into its plans will
continue with less stress than one that has no such element in its
For those who are in need of guidance about crisis management,
the text discusses some international standards available from the
NIST and from ISO. The NIST link above goes
to an article about a smoldering crisis.