Everyone can handle a crisis, until one rises. It’s possible for almost any organization to experience a crisis. Handling it is what can make the difference.
At the Summit for New Risk Champions, Arley Turner of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center said that a crisis could be evidence that risk management has failed if the organization views risk management narrowly, as a discipline focused on avoiding or minimizing losses. A crisis is not evidence of failure, however, if the organization views risk management as a discipline for coping with uncertainty.
Regardless, Turner offered a framework of seven steps for crisis management:
Step 1. Convene the crisis management/response board. Do not wait until a crisis has snowballed.
Step 2. Gather information needed for sound decision-making. The leadership team needs accurate and timely information.
Step 3. Define the boundaries of confidentiality. Boards often err on the side of secrecy, so recognize the danger in stakeholder speculation.
Step 4. Determine the need for independent help. Diverse points of view can be a big help.
Step 5. Consider more than one course of action.
Step 6. Reflect on the long-term implications of decisions. An initial promise of immediate action might shore up support in the short term but lead to an erosion of trust if not followed through.
Step 7. Evaluate and adjust. Few true crisis events unfold as we expect they will.