Your crisis manual – dead or alive?

By Corneel Maes

These days, most international companies have a crisis manual – or are at least aware that they need one. In a global market, where social media can build or kill your reputation, crisis preparedness planning has become a must-have. But then again, too many executives still feel confident that the crisis manual – readily stowed away in their top drawer – is their insurance for handling a crisis successfully. I’ll tell you what happens “if the shit hits the fan”. The precious booklet will be outdated, contact persons and process owners have moved to different positions, procedures have changed, that updated checklist was not included yet. And when was the equipment in the crisis room tested again? Don’t even remember … Conclusion: the crisis manual is dead. No issue really in keeping it buried in that top drawer, it’s useless anyway.

Here are 5 basic rules that will help you keep your crisis manual alive and kicking:

  1. Appoint an owner for the crisis manual and make that person accountable for its accuracy.
  2. Do a sanity check of the crisis manual at least once every quarter. Check names, contact details, templates – and don’t forget to update the key figures in the boiler plate after your quarterly results publication.
  3. Update your stakeholder databases and make sure they are accessible even when the whole ICT network has collapsed.
  4. Review the decision trees, roles & responsibilities of the crisis team members and escalation guidelines after any major strategic development in your company.
  5. Last but not least, talk about the existence of the crisis manual within your organization. Make sure it is included in the welcome package for new hires and integrate it into your management development training program.

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