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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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:
For Refugee Resettlement and Refugee Coaching, go to:
For international emergency resources, go to:
Plagiarism is theft © Martyn Carruthers 2002-2008
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
a complete system of coaching and mentorship.