By Howard Harris, EdD and Mayer Nudell, CSC

Organizations must be able to deal effectively with a crisis when one occurs-not easy to accomplish because of the destruction, confusion, and changing circumstances created by the event. Most everyone remembers Hurricane Katrina and the more recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Both events turned into disastrous response and recovery efforts. But a disastrous crisis event can be dealt with more effectively when an organization has an all-hazard crisis response and recovery plan. The discussion that follows advocates developing a strategic planning strategy prior to developing the organization's crisis response and recovery plan. This task can be accomplished through a structured interactive seminar experience.

One will know when a hurricane is on the way, but a car bomb explosion in the garage of an office building can happen with little or no warning. It is important for the organization to be prepared to deal with events in a way that secures organizational property, saves lives, protects organizational assets, preserves evidence, and maintains organizational continuity during the recovery period. The first step in developing a strategic crisis response and recovery plan is to create a strategic crisis planning strategy. The second step is to implement the strategic crisis planning strategy by developing and testing the organization's strategic crisis response and recovery plan. The only other alternative to this two-step planning approach is not being prepared-a dangerous mistake with serious and adverse consequences.

Deciding how one's organization needs to plan for a potential crisis event is an important executive responsibility. Often, executives will have little or no experience in crisis planning, so the type of training taken can have a significant impact on future planning success. Finding the right training course or seminar to match an organization's planning needs is an important decision.

The Strategic Crisis Strategy Seminar (SCSS) is a unique two-day training session. Its purpose is to provide participants with an opportunity to create a strategic crisis planning strategy that will become a crisis plan to increase their organization's capability to respond to and recover from a crisis event. The SCSS emphasizes the many commonalities of crisis planning and allows SCSS participants to create a strategic crisis response strategy. After returning to their organizations, they can start developing their organizational-specific and long-term strategic crisis response and recovery plans, reflecting the importance of operational continuity before, during, and after a crisis event, as depicted in the Risk Management Cycle.

Risk Management Cycle

Developing a strategic crisis planning strategy first is very different from many of the current emergency planning courses that offer either traditional contingency planning activities for specific events or a general fill in the-blanks planning model that often does not match an organization's specific planning needs. Both of these approaches can result in a waste of company time and money with little or no return on the financial investment. The two-day SCSS experience is more interactive and more challenging than most traditional planning courses or workshops and is based on a traditional approach to instructional design, with an emphasis is on concept attainment.

Corporate-wide training and exercising are both critical and practical aspects of corporate-wide preparedness. Training and exercise activities must be scheduled periodically at corporate and operating company levels. The only way a plan can be tested, other than during a crisis event, is by conducting crisis response and business continuity exercises. Preparedness increases the probability of an effective response. The SCSS can help your organization cost-effectively do this.

For more information about Strategic Crisis Planning or other crisis management and security programs, please click here.

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