Dynamiq Strategy Managing Director, Gary Rigby

Much is said about the need for organisations to have a regularly-tested crisis management plan. But would your people really know what to do at 2am when their mobile rings?

The onset of a major incident, with phones ringing off the hook and hearts racing, is no time to be wading through your crisis plan and working out who needs to do what.

Simplicity is key

It’s not necessary to have multiple, complex plans catering for every eventuality. The crisis management plan needs to be in plain English, easy-to-follow and provide structured guidance. All members of the team, whether they are in the crisis control room or on site, must find it easy to use.

When the crisis drops

When an emergency occurs, we would usually receive a phone call with some type of description of the event.  Depending upon our experience, our job, our sensitivity, and even our ego, each of us will process this information differently. 

Different aspects will take priority in our initial assessment and each of us will make different decisions and take different actions. These differences set us up for failure right from the start by allowing subjectivity to take over.

Crisis management is about making timely decisions based on best facts and clear thinking when operating under extraordinary conditions. The organisation must fully understand when it has crossed the threshold from dealing with a day-to-day business problem to being in a crisis situation. This assessment must be consistent across the organisation and must be made quickly and simply, irrespective of whether the cause is incident or issue-related.

The matrix

An objective process and tool for assessing the incident, allows us to be freed up from our own constraints. This encourages us to focus on identifying the outcomes related to the problem and their potential severity in a consistent way, irrespective of where we sit in the organisation’s structure.

The specialists at Dynamiq first developed a severity matrix tool for a client over twenty years ago and many of the world’s largest companies now use it.  It’s not a risk matrix like we’re used to seeing, but an outcomes-based crisis management matrix.

The severity matrix is basically a radar screen which helps identify, assess, notify and escalate incidents within the organisation in a consistent, appropriate and expected way. This powerful single-page helps to guide those managing the incident from the first call to the last debrief meeting.

Most crises cost money but they don’t destroy the brand. What does destroy reputations and ruin organisations is poor crisis management and the lack of organisational resilience.  

The severity matrix provides your people with a consistent and robust process and gives your organisation the best chance of coming out the other side of a crisis with minimal negative legacy.

Contact Gary Rigby to find out more about implementing a severity matrix in your organisation.

Building business resilience to read about how Dynamiq helps organisations build resilience.

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