Do you have a dinosaur in your crisis management team?

May 7, 2014 by Jonathan Hemus

At the start of a crisis management training workshop I ran last month, one of the delegates – let’s call him Aqeel – introduced himself as a “dinosaur”.  He explained that he had worked for a global business in a high risk sector for over forty years. More than that, he had helped to write and implement its crisis management plan in the face of a number of challenging issues.

But, as a dinosaur, he acknowledged that he was no trailblazer for techniques such as online reputation management, virtual command centres or social media. So what role – if any – can a dinosaur play in a twenty-first century crisis management team?

Aqeel’s contributions throughout the workshop demonstrated that a dinosaur can indeed play a critical role in a crisis, in particular by providing:

1) Experience

A crisis is not the best time for trying out something new or taking a leap into the unknown on a wing and a prayer. Forty years dealing with issues provides enormous expertise and knowledge to help teams make the right decisions about today’s crisis. Treasure that experience and make sure you call upon it in the event of an incident.

2) Wisdom

A crisis is a time for action, but it also a time for thought: your crisis management team must embrace individuals capable of delivering both. Add a dinosaur to your team to conduct scenario planning, to help shape the strategy and to provide insights that the more action-orientated members of the team can completely miss.

3) Constructive challenge

Combine experience and wisdom and the result is credibility.  The dinosaur in your crisis management team will have the credibility to ask difficult questions and – in a constructive way – challenge the crisis management team leader about their strategy or decision-making.

Identify your dinosaurs through crisis management planning

Dinosaurs are unlikely to be the noisiest creatures in your crisis management team, but they will certainly be among the best listeners. And whilst they may not talk a lot, when they do, the room will go quiet and they will command the attention of the entire team.

Decisive leaders, social media savvy communicators, energetic information gatherers, well organised administrators and others are all important members of an effective crisis management team.  But don’t forget the dinosaur: their contribution can help to prevent your organisation becoming extinct.

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