The importance of Assessing Crisis Impacts

From cyber-attacks to physical disasters, today’s business reality means that no matter how large or small an incident, every organisation needs a smart, structured approach for managing crisis events and the right tools to execute a plan under pressure.
The way to deal with these pressures is having a well-structured crisis management strategy. This will guide your team in the effective management of a crisis, minimising the impacts on your people, reputation, market share, regulatory compliance and financial stability.

To be effective in a crisis, leadership teams need to quickly develop situational awareness.  Situational awareness is about keeping track of what is going on around you in a complex, dynamic environment. Having good situational awareness can assist an organisation to respond quickly to changes in their environment, make rapid decisions and act decisively during a crisis.

A Model for Building Situational Awareness

To build situational awareness in a crisis situation, you need information. Simply having information is not enough though. You need to be able to collect the right kind of information, assess it effectively and then use the outcomes of your assessments to make effective decisions.

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One of the key challenges in a crisis is collecting accurate, relevant information in a timely manner. Typically, information is either unavailable, out-dated, incorrect, misleading or rapidly changing.  Knowing what information to collect and where to get this information from is critical.

How we Assess Information

A critical task for crisis managers is to be able to effectively assess information to make decisions and deliver relevant briefings to stakeholders.  This is a task that is rarely performed well.

In many cases, crisis teams receive information and make decisions without an objective evaluation process. This ultimately increases the probability of cognitive distortions and biases creating poor decision-making outcomes.

Key questions to consider when assessing information includes:

■ What is fact?
■ What is fiction?
■ What is assumed?
■ What is clear and unclear?
■ What is firsthand information?

Tools for Assessing Information

To help gather the right the right answers and objectives, two tools are widely used by organisations to effectively assess information, these are the incident assessment and the impact assessment tools. These assess severity and potential impacts of the incident respectively.

1. Assessing Incident Severity – Incident Assessment Tool

An assessment of incident severity is typically conducted in the early stages of a crisis. The objective of this type of assessment is to determine whether there is a need to go into ‘crisis’ mode, ‘watch and wait’ mode or remain in a ‘business-as-usual’ state.
For obvious incidents such as disasters, it may not be necessary to perform a formal incident assessment as the outcomes are clear; however, for less obvious events, such as IT failures, this type of assessment becomes very important. Fortunately, the tools now available can help you measure where your organisation sits in the crisis.

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Configurable Incident Assessment tool in CQCommand

2. Assessing Impacts – Impact Assessment Tool

A key role for crisis management team members is to minimise the potential for crisis impacts including:

■ Human loss.
■ Reputational damage.
■ Financial loss.
■ Legal liability.
■ Changes to strategic viability.

To objectively assess the consequences of the event, we need to gain an understanding of the following four variables:

■ Likely duration of the incident.
■ Scale and scope of the incident.
■ Likely impacts.
■ Interdependences.  I.e. what else will be impacted indirectly by the event?

A useful way of doing this is to group the incidents and measure the overall impact towards your organisation, as shown below.

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Interactive Impact Assessment tool in CQCommand

During the impact assessment phase consideration should be given to the following 5 questions:
1. Potential for the incident to further escalate
2. Extent that the incident is likely to gain external attention
3. Extent that the incident will interfere with business operations
4. Potential impacts on bottom line financials
5. Whether you are perceived as the victim or the culprit

The importance of preparing your tools in real life

Between the 15th and 16th of December 2014, Man Haron Monis initiated a ten person hostage crisis situation at a Lindt Chocolate Cafe’ in the Sydney CBD; located in Martin Place. For the Swiss Chocolatier company founded in the 18 hundreds, it was undoubtedly a crisis event, but what about the organisations located in Martin Place directly in the firing line and media spotlight. Regular shots of their business on newspapers next to the cafe, regular spotlight attention globally.

Evidence has shown that several organisations were unsure how to react. “Do we lock down, or do we send staff home?”. Unclear on the unknown threat of other “terrorist” activities taking place in other parts of the city, confusion set in. The ability and capability to build situational awareness about this particular event became very apparent to most organisations. Identifying the impacts early on would have facilitated a faster and more effective response to the incident.

A tool that not only provides this capability, but also allows for fast communication between staff and stakeholders would have alleviated some of the pressures on the many crisis teams that were called to action that day.

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How CQCommand can help

CQCommand has been designed to specifically help you in these situations. As an award winning online crisis management tool, it helps leadership teams manage crisis events, build situational awareness, collaborate and effectively communicate from anywhere, at any time.

From only $32 per month and no lock in contracts, you can conduct incident assessments, track response activities, collate and share information, assess impacts and manage all your communication requirements – all with the click of a few buttons. With no complex setup or training required, you can be ready to go in a matter of minutes.

Empowering your leaders with this crisis management tool will effectively help lead your organisation through a crisis event. Contact us today for your obligation-free demonstration or register for your free trial at www.cqcommand.com

CQCommand is brought to you by leading crisis management specialists RiskLogic. RiskLogic empowers leading organisations to effectively manage crisis events through pragmatic crisis management planning, cutting edge crisis leadership training and dynamic scenario exercises. For more information about Crisis Planning, crisis leadership training or scenario exercises contact us on 1300 138 772 or info@risklogic.com.au