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Crisis and Contingency Planning

Emergency Planning for Crisis and Disaster Recovery

Fire, floods, tornado, disease, blackout, violence, hurricane, tsunami, bomb threat, hijacking, hostage taking, missing employees, burglary, earthquake, riot, hostile takeover, strikes, network crash, terrorism, storms, bankruptcy, sabotage, civil unrest, suspicious mail, government coup

Why prepare for a crisis?

Systemic Solutions provides emergency planning, crisis intervention and disaster recovery strategies for events that could endanger lives, organizational viability or cause material damage. Contingency planning applies to all members and stakeholders of an organization, including important suppliers and customers. Emergency measures facilitate appropriate action to minimize harmful consequences.

Contingency planning and emergency preparedness is not cheap insurance nor unnecessary pessimism. Organizations that practice contingency and emergency planning are more likely to survive a crisis. Disaster planning increases the likelihood that your organization will survive a crisis.

Systemic Solutions provides coaching and training in emergency measures and contingency planning. Our support is especially relevant to smaller organizations, who often risk more than larger organizations; yet are less likely to invest the time and resources for emergency preparedness.

Emergency Planning Resources

Contingency Planning Emergencies Crisis Planning Errors
Bomb threat - Office Bomb threat - School Bomb threat - Industry
Hijacking Hostages Refugees
Fire Planning Flood Planning High Wind / Tornado
Blackouts Personal Emergencies Refugee Management

Emergency planning is good business sense. Following a disaster, the first organizations "back on line" are often well positioned to create a lot of new business. Some basic questions for managers are:

  • Which key people are needed for the organization to function?
  • Which key resources are needed for the organization to survive?
  • What could disrupt these people or resources?
  • What plans are already in place?

Fire Plans may be legal requirements. An organization sited on low ground or below a dam should also have a Flood Plan. Some organizations need Tornado Plans, Blackout Plans and Bomb Threat Plans.

A crisis can include events such as bankruptcy or near-bankruptcy, loss of critical suppliers or threats of hostile takeover. Equally important, and often ignored, is the mental health of staff following a crisis. Professional therapy or coaching may be needed to assist staff to regain their balance and productivity.

Fast recovery from a crisis depends on "people skills" as well as professional competence. Systemic Coaching provides guidance and objectivity needed for crisis environments. Poor people skills can threaten careers and organizations. Systemic coaching offers opportunities to improve leadership and teamwork skills before, during and after a crisis.

Emergency Planning provides unexpected benefits. Creating contingency plans and emergency exercises causes managers to consider critical aspects of their departments and identify ways to increase quality, efficiency and productivity.

Basic Crisis Management

1. Big Picture
Make a goal walk or mind map, and fill in the spaces. Consider what can go wrong. Where is your organization vulnerable? Consider the consequences of a fire, flood, tornado, disease, blackout, workplace violence, sabotage, hurricane, bomb threat, hijacking, hostage taking, the loss of key employees, burglary, riot, hostile takeover, employee strike, terrorism, network crash ...

2. Critical Hazards
Identify which hazards are most relevant to your organization, and develop solid contingency plans for those critical hazards first. Then create less detailed plans for less likely events.

3. Contingency Teams
Select contingency planning teams. Include people with many perspectives on company vulnerabilities. Include people with detailed knowledge of the building and essential computer networks, department managers and a human resources representative.

4. Contact Staff
Find ways that people can communicate in a crisis. List home phone numbers, pager numbers, non-work e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers. Keep the list updated. Consider a “phone-out tree”.

5. Designate Authority
Designate a decision-maker and alternates who know the steps for all crises, who can reach staff and essential contacts (police and security specialists, fire department, key vendors, important customers, etc). Inform staff who will have authority during chaos.

6. Chain of command
If key people are missing, who will make decisions? Designate a clear chain of command and authority. Consider military chains of command, or governmental succession; and apply it for your organization.

7. List Vulnerabilities
Do you have an alarm system? What if layoffs occur? What if all telephones are disconnected? What if a key supplier can’t move shipments? What if your intranet is "down"? Consider how each crisis would affect your core activities, revenue streams, customer service and staff.

8. Alternative Workspace
Will another company share their facilities until space at a new location is rented and equipped?

9. Backup Information
Are copies of your important papers and files – both print and electronic recently backed up off site?

10. Backup Knowledge
In smaller organizations, key individuals are often major assets. Model and duplicate their expertise and skills. Interview key people and create educational materials. Start coaching, training or mentoring programs of knowledge management. Document and educate staff inknowledge management. Model and duplicate expert performance with Expert Modeling.

11. Essential Resources
What can keep your organization running in a crisis? If part of your organization shuts down, where would revenue come from? What people, equipment, space, supplies or services are needed to keep revenue flowing during a business disruption?

12. Hire an Experienced Consultant
Hire a consultant to check the first contingency plans – someone familiar with emergency preparedness who can help streamline the plan while identifying critical holes. A Systemic Coach skilled in emergency procedures may write and edit emergency manuals, present emergency preparedness training, supervise exercises and liaise with local authorities.

13. Educate Staff
Compose an  emergency manual and educate staff.  Arrange seminars by emergency planners, police and fire officials. Inform staff that their familiarity with disaster recovery will be tested at random times.

14. Exercise Contingencies
Simulate crisis scenarios. Shut down systems and monitor how staff react. Perhaps disconnect all electronic communication in one location. What happens elsewhere? What happens if you shut down a main computer system? How do people react to a bomb threat or anthrax scare? Simulate the loss of key employees.

Be prepared!
Disaster preparedness and response is needed by all organizations, yet is especially important in small organizations, where each person matters more to survival. Create realistic plans, regularly test the plans with lifelike drills and ensure that everyone knows how to respond.

For Disaster Planning and Emergency Training, go to: Emergency Preparedness

For Refugee Resettlement and Refugee Coaching, go to: Refugee Management

For international emergency resources, go to: Crisis Contacts

Plagiarism is theft © Martyn Carruthers 2002-2008
Martyn Carruthers was a medical technician and served on Royal Navy nuclear submarines during the Cold War. He was health physics and safety officer at English and Canadian nuclear power stations, and Radiation Protection Officer for the Canadian government, where he worked with Public Health and Emergency Measures organizations. Martyn also founded Soulwork Solutions, a complete system of coaching and mentorship.

Emergency Training

  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Contingency Exercises
  • Crisis Management
  • Dealing with Trauma and PTSD
  • Refugee Management

Disaster Recovery

  • Developing an Overall Emergency Plan
  • Controlling each crisis
  • Testing Contingency Plans
  • Maintaining Contingency Plans
  • Emergency Training

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email