Crisis Management
Crisis Management avatar

I love these catch phrases that we have in our society: crisis management, emergency mitigation, continuity of operations. What is a crisis? Well, in truth it can come in many forms.

Here’s one definition:Crisis Management - Survival Blueprint

A crisis is any unstable and dangerous social situation regarding economic, personal, political or societal affairs, especially one involving an impending abrupt change.

Here is another:

Crises are “specific, unexpected, and non-routine events or series of events that create high levels of uncertainty and threat or perceived threat to an organization’s high priority goals.”

Let’s break this down:

The “event” is unexpected, it creates uncertainty, is a threat to important goals. I like the first definition because it incorporates the need for change. In a crisis, the old system can no longer be maintained; your cell phone doesn’t work, the grocery store is closed, you will have to do something different. Without change the crisis is simply a failure! I don’t like the second definition because it defines the crisis as unexpected. Crisis is never unexpected and if it’s predictable, it’s preventable and this would definitely suggest that people in a business, government, or family unit knew the risks and that the incident may occur; but what did they do about it?

In a business organization for instance, crisis management is often times associated with business continuity management, keeping the business afloat, although this is really just a reference to a short term or “band aid” response to the crisis. Businesses often fail because they did not predict the crisis before hand or if predicted, did nothing to prevent it or mitigate it.

Crisis however isn’t confined to just business; crisis occurs in different sectors of our society, even in our own homes. So what keeps the crisis from becoming a failure? Change.

What keeps the crisis from leading to a catastrophe? Preparedness.

Apart from natural disasters that are inherently unpredictable – volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and tornadoes – most of the crises that we face are created by man. This would suggest that for the crisis to be “unexpected”, man would have had to fail to identify the onset of crisis conditions. Does anyone living in or around the Gulf of Mexico really believe that we have seen our last hurricane? I can tell you that no one who lives in Tornado Alley believes that they have seen their last tornado! Even in the case of these natural disasters, entities from the National Weather Service down to the local weather man are attempting to predict the crisis conditions in an order to at least give warning so that action plans can be set in motion.

If you live in New York do you really believe that you have seen the end of terrorist attacks?  Our government doesn’t and they are constantly attempting to predict where the next attack on the United States will be. The Department of Homeland Security, Joint Terrorism Taskforces, State Fusion Centers the list goes on and on; all attempting to identify the crisis conditions so that the attack might be adverted or warning might be given. And let me assure you, just because you don’t live in New York doesn’t mean that you are safe. Recent intelligence predicts that terrorist’s organizations have identified areas and landmarks all throughout the United States as potential targets.

Some of our inability to recognize crises before they become dangerous is due to denial; we just can’t envision the crisis “happening to us”. Still another reason for failing to notice the onset of crises is that we allow ourselves to be “tricked” into believing that we are doing the wrong things for the right reasons. We aren’t preparing for the crisis because we “don’t want to be paranoid”. However, the results of our own failure to prepare for the inevitable cannot be termed a crisis and the end result of our lack of preparedness can only result in failure.

To better understand the purpose of crisis management, we must understand the benefits and objectives. First, crisis management gives us the opportunity to evaluate a situation. Second it aides in the redirection of an unfavorable course. The next step is to find ways to persevere despite crisis and gain resilience. Finally, crisis management instills confidence and inoculates us to the stress of the event. Crisis management, emergency preparedness, whatever you would like to call it, is an exercise in stress inoculation. The event itself will be stressful; whether it is a hurricane, tornado or terrorist attack. The event will trigger uncertainty and fear; but a plan, a Survival Blueprint will go far to reduce these fears and will provide answers to the questions that will inevitably present themselves.

What are we going to do? Where will we go? How will we protect ourselves? How will we live? Make no mistake, survival is still the key and proper prior planning can keep the crisis from escalating into a catastrophe.

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