Perfect crisis management takes practice, practice, practice

Practice makes perfect. We’ve heard it from parents, teachers and coaches all of our lives, so why do so many organizations neglect the fact that they need to practice their crisis management plans in order to effectively put them into practice for the real thing?

In a recent post for the Disaster Recovery Journal, Robert Burton and Thomas Chiginsky discussed the need to not only practice, but practice the right things, in order to best prepare for crisis management.

The value derived from testing a company’s emergency and business continuity plan is tied to the clarity and quality of the testing. In other words: garbage in is garbage out. A mere checklist of exercise “to-do’s” will probably not elevate preparedness, nor highlight areas of improvement.

Basically, you can spend time going through the motions of crisis training, or you can spend that same amount of time and actually improve the your organization’s resilience against crises.

Consider your objectives, and prepare your training plans accordingly. For example, if you’re practicing an evacuation plan, a tabletop exercise is not going to cut the mustard. At the same time, if your goal is for your customer service department to practice handling mass media inquiries, right there at their workstations is the perfect place.

Whatever your goals for crisis management training, set them clearly beforehand, and leave time for an evaluation period after. Grade not only the performance of participants, but how well the actual plan worked, and also how effective the training session was in teaching or enforcing the skills and procedures it was intended to.

You wouldn’t go on stage without a few dress rehearsals, and you wouldn’t step up to the free-throw line without hours of work in the gym. Don’t assume you’re ready to tackle crisis management without putting in the practice first.