We are facing unprecedented global security challenges where organizations need to rethink to have a better and deeper understanding of security and geopolitical trends to reshape the approach towards business continuity. In this challenging environment, it is necessary to understand the perspectives and implications of global issues such as international security, technology, the environment, and disease outbreaks. The recent pandemic exposed gaps in the planning process of business continuity, such as the absence of situational awareness, inadequate pandemic planning, lack of contingencies, and untested crisis management plans.
Before the pandemic, a few business organizations used limited intelligence in their crisis management planning process in a successful manner. However, most organizations were not able to consider the importance of intelligence factors due to inherent limitations, such as limited scope and the non-availability of subject-matter experts in the organizations. The evidence shows organizations with dedicated and trusted geopolitical analysis teams capable of performing intelligence work could be a force multiplier. It helps the organization proactively mitigate risks in the business continuity spectrum to enhance operational resiliency. This article briefly covers ways to overcome challenges faced by leaders and attempts to prepare the organization to engage in effective crisis management with the integration of intelligence.
In the corporate environment, the crisis management system works as a lifeline of the organization. Highly competitive and successful organizations survive and come out strongly in a crisis due to robust crisis management best practices, including the ability to identify strategic issues, taking personal ownership, agility, and adaptability in dealing with challenges. It is necessary to expand the scope of crisis management to include subject-matter experts who could impart their knowledge and proactively build the required skill sets of the team to prevent a crisis in the first place where possible, rather than dealing with it at the expense of time, space, and resources. As such, one needs to constantly monitor developing situations that affect your operations and make appropriate timely changes to the plans while maintaining appropriate early warning systems.
In this context – as the first line of defense – crisis management with integrated intelligence, experienced personnel, tested procedures, and effective decision-making models could play a crucial role. A fully-fledged crisis management framework facilitates sensing and knowing earlier to maintain business continuity while preserving the institution’s reputation. Timely intelligence is essential to reduce ambiguity, identify potential issues, counter threats, and formulate appropriate responses to gain an edge in a challenging environment. As such, during intelligence preparation in crisis management, planners need to focus on essential steps such as planning, data collection, data processing, analysis, and dissemination of results to the crisis management leadership. These findings help the crisis management leadership to visualize the situation, understand the risk factor, current level of performance, and to plan for the required capacity enhancement to mitigate risks with a data-driven decision-making model. Timely identification of an event that has the potential to disrupt business is essential as it will enable a quick transition into action to continue business or come out stronger in any eventuality.
In crisis management, the concept known as “situational awareness” can be used to enhance visibility. It is a concept of knowing what is happening in the environment, where you work, live or travel. This concept is extensively used by the military successfully to prevent errors and to improve performance. Also, situational awareness provides an opportunity to understand the situation and use resources effectively to mitigate risks while reducing uncertainty.
As in any other situation, decision-making is the key to success and plays the most important part in crisis management. The decision maker’s mind and decision-making model are equally important in navigating a crisis successfully. To be effective, it is required to view a problem from different perspectives with an open mind. It is also necessary to seek information and accommodate different opinions to avoid decision biases. Historical case studies show even smart choices can have adverse consequences due to a lack of awareness and decision biases. In most cases, poor decisions can damage a business reputation, career, or, worst of all, the loss of lives. In this context, proactive result-oriented decision-making processes could be used to strengthen the corporate crisis management process to reduce vulnerability and achieve speed in decision making.
In a rapidly changing threat environment, visualization and integration activities are critical components of the crisis management framework. Visualization tools such as mapping technologies and geospatial information systems facilitate the construction of an enhanced common operating picture. Visual data mixed with voice/text data further enhances the understanding of situations. Proper integration helps to act decisively and add value to decision-making.
While crisis management is a strenuous thought process, crisis managers must have the initiative to anticipate and identify critical issues in a complex situation to get to the heart of the problem quickly. Crisis managers must also use good judgment to understand the underlying situation quickly to determine what course of action to be taken.
Crisis management training is another vital aspect which needs timely attention. In this highly competitive and challenging environment, hands-on approaches such as assignments, work projects, scenario-specific quizzes, or table-top exercises far outperform just talking with trainees. Regardless of the type of training, realistic training opportunities should be offered regularly to relevant target audiences and possibly synchronized with an actual drill. Training performance standards must align with the current crisis management environment where possible.
To be effective, crisis management leaders must be creative in planning, knowing they operate in an uncertain environment and need to test their ideas proactively. A team of planners with diverse backgrounds and expertise drawn from different organizations enhances the crisis management process to gain maximum advantage. This approach helps crisis management teams to develop the required skills to gain an edge in a challenging environment by expanding their focus and seeking avenues to broaden their horizons.
In conclusion, the organization’s strength derives from experience, tried and tested crisis management procedures, and an integrated decision-making structure. It is understood that crisis management teams cannot feasibly train for every likely scenario. However, they should be able to use their skills and knowledge as a guide in navigating unfamiliar situations.