Chapter 12, Crisis Management and International Standards
This lesson is about chapter 12. Objectives important to
Crisis definition and management
Involvement of law enforcement
Preparing for crises
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
479 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 in the middle of the
page, but it is more useful in the light of the author's concerns:
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
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
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 using adequate preparation and foresight.
Despite the attack that followed, Tyrion Lannister won that battle with
the preparation of a devastating blow to the opposing navy, a fact that
Varys acknowledges in a scene following Tyrion's change in fortune.
So, we should honor both the emergent hero and the planned
hero. 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 Boy 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 assistance.
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 plans.
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.