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How a mock crisis rehearsal can help advance your business and unlock new insights

Posted by Deepshikha Shukla

February 14, 2022

A business crisis can be defined as an unplanned incident with undesirable consequences that threaten the company, its stakeholders or the public. While the source of the crisis could be a poor decision, negligence, malfeasance or a variety of other issues out of your control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it necessitates an immediate response. 

Crisis management for businesses takes the response a step further than simply reacting. It entails anticipating, planning for, dealing with and recovering from any future crises that may transpire by taking preemptive steps.  

So, what is the goal of a mock crisis rehearsal? As part of a business’s crisis management plan, it aims to diminish potential harm to the company and mitigate any harm to the public. In the event a crisis is mismanaged, the business may suffer financial losses and reputational damage from which it may never recover, and this is what a mock crisis rehearsal is meant to prevent.

Crises force companies to make hard decisions, such as whom to lay off and what expenses to cut. But by going through the exercise of a mock crisis, you can develop a plan to proactively manage them. 

Six steps for your business's crisis management plan:

Step 1: Identify potential crises



Assess the company’s main operational risks — such as the unavailability of key resources, the loss of certain employees, the dwindling scalability of certain tools and processes, or improper acts that could damage your reputation. Reevaluate underperforming products, services or programs. Identify any areas that require expenses to be cut. 

Step 2: Develop a crisis management plan



Create a plan to address each one of the potential crises you identified, and periodically review and update the plan. You need to have all the key players involved in developing the plan, such as leadership, IT, HR and public relations.

The crisis management plan should address:

• Ways to reduce tension when a crisis occurs.

• Demonstration of the company’s competence and leadership.

• Control of the flow and accuracy of information. 

• Management of the company’s limited resources.

• Information to be shared with key stakeholders such as customers, owners, vendors and employees, as well as the media and government regulators, if applicable.

Step 3: Appoint a crisis team, spokesperson



Appoint a crisis management team, which may comprise people from several teams, such as senior management, security, operations, finance and HR. The crisis management team may also include external experts, such as PR professionals, lawyers, outsourced CFOs, computer experts and government relations experts. 

Assign a spokesperson who will act as the voice and face of the company during a crisis. This individual should be trained to deal with the media during a crisis and possess the know-how to control the message. Alternatively, you can seek help from a PR expert or legal adviser to ensure the right message is delivered.

Step 4: Conduct mock crisis rehearsals



Once the team is identified, members must be trained regarding each type of potential crisis identified in the plan. Every person on the team needs to clearly understand their responsibilities. Conducting a periodic mock crisis rehearsal will help identify shortcomings in the crisis management plan that you can correct before a real crisis arrives. 

The best mock crisis drill includes these elements:

• A mock crisis scenario that is developed in advance.

• Participants who are unaware of the specific crisis scenario.

• A facilitator to manage and monitor the rehearsal.

• Members of the crisis management team should act on the fly.

• Each team member should play their role accordingly, such as IT, PR, etc.

Step 5: Dealing with crisis



In all types of crisis situations, your response team should act quickly to implement the plan. 

A threat to public safety can harm a company’s reputation even worse than its finances, and this type of crisis should be immediately categorized as “highly urgent.” Inform insiders and the public alike that the company’s primary concern is public safety, not its finances or reputation. Depending on the severity, you may need to hold back a product or curtail service to a certain geographic area.

If the crisis is a financial one, be sure to preserve all financial records and to isolate possible employee wrongdoers, steps that should already be built into your plan. Involve your audit and HR team in the remediation, and try to repair damage to the company’s reputation.  

To reinforce the impression that the situation is under control, address the public and stakeholders before the media catches on. As previously stated, when it comes to external communications, only your company spokesperson should deliver messaging.

Step 6: Post-crisis analysis



Dealing with a crisis requires a careful but speedy response by all actors. They have to perform their assigned duties, often under very difficult circumstances. When the crisis passes and the company regains normal operations, the crisis management team and leadership should review how well the company prepared for the crisis and how well the response team performed. Take necessary steps to reduce the chances of another crisis developing or to better deal with the next crisis. The crisis plan should not be static; it should be an evolving plan.

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