4 Common Crisis Management Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

During a recent Castellan webinar, we asked respondents if their organization has suffered through more than one major threat at a time during the last 12 months. Thirty six percent said yes.

That’s not surprising. We’re seeing an increase in multiple disruptions managed simultaneously, thanks in large part to the long-lasting impacts of the pandemic.

As such, our customers, particularly those in executive management, are telling us they understand they need a more holistic approach on how to manage crises.

Unfortunately, a lot of silos between departments, work groups, and locations still exist within most organizations, making this challenging.

Toss in multiple simultaneous (and ongoing) disruptions, and teams find themselves bogged down with response plan focus, robbing them of time to build a holistic approach that spans from planning through response and into recovery. And not just for operations and production, but with consideration to impact on brand, the market, and customers.

A recent report cited in a Forbes article, “Reset and Reimagine: Surviving and Thriving in a Uniquely Challenging Business Environment,” indicates that while business leaders are still working through COVID-19 issues, they’re now also faced with also trying to effectively manage other simultaneous issues such as supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, inflation, and changes in consumer behaviors.

These complicated disruption issues, paired with many organizations’ siloed approach to crisis management, is making it increasingly difficult for leaders to break down those silos to build more holistic response strategies.

This is where shifting focus from plan-based approaches to one that’s resilience management focused is so important. It’s key to breaking down those silos.

Here at Castellan, we define resilience management as: The journey to minimize the frequency of disruption, as well as the impact on the market and customer and organization consequence.

Resilience management capability is achieved by removing unnecessary boundaries between crisis management, operational resilience, and business continuity. This objective is also achieved through influence all the way to an organization’s individual decision-maker.

So, what are some of the key issues that arise as stumbling blocks for many organizations? Here’s a closer look at some common crisis management pitfalls organizations grapple with.

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Crisis Management Pitfalls

While each organization’s approach to resilience management will be different based on a variety of factors, such as an organization’s size, industry, business goals, and others, we’re seeing some similarity in the issues many organizations face, which can serve as lessons-learned for others looking to move in that more holistic direction.

Some of these pitfalls include:

  • Incomplete information on the organization (to identify impacts associated with a crisis scenario)
    • Not understanding all of an organization’s assets
    • Not understanding dependencies, especially for business important assets, services, roles, and functions

Without this information, your organization may continue to struggle with resilience management because you won’t be able to truly understand the full impact scope of a disruption on your products and services.

  • Creating response plans, but not exercising them
    • Dedicating time to exercise plans is critical
    • You’ll find missing steps
    • You’ll understand nuances with exercises

By routinely exercising and testing your plans, you’ll be able to correct issues and strengthen them before an actual disruption occurs.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your response plans require you to activate your IT team. You do this as your plan says, but soon realize you’re not getting the right level of response. If you don’t have an escalation path built in advance, it can greatly hurt your recovery processes.

  • Lack of backup personnel per role or wrong or untrained people in those roles

We’ve seen instances with some of our clients where a specific person’s name, not role, is hard-coded into a recovery plan. When that happens and that person leaves the organization, as we’re seeing especially during The Great Resignation, then oftentimes no one knows who is the right person to pick up those tasks. To resolve this, consider assigning response and recovery tasks by role, not person.

  • Lack of situational information on the threat landscape
    • No threat or risk intelligence

Understanding your threat landscape, especially as it evolves, is critical in ensuring timely and effective response and recovery actions.

Bridging the Gap

These pitfalls are only some examples organizations can face when shifting from a plan-based crisis management approach to one that’s more holistic and builds continuity across your entire organization.

When you bridge the gap between your planning and response strategies, your organization will have a more coordinated response to incidents. You’ll experience fewer surprises and your teams will be able to respond with more confidence because they understand what’s expected of them.

Another benefit? This holistic approach can help you better achieve your recovery time objective (RTO) and meet your organization’s business expectations.

When you bridge that gap you can more effectively remove silos between readiness and response.

Want to know more about how you can develop more holistic resilience management strategies and break down those silos within your organization? Download our guide, “Getting Started With Resilience Management,” or contact a Castellan advisor for help.

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