Do Your Crisis Management Firefighters Practice Their Skills?

Planning is important, but plans require practice to be used properly in a crisis

Imagine you came upon a firefighting team just arrived at the scene of a fire, all milling around with leaders shouting conflicting orders, firefighters not recalling how to properly set up and use their equipment, and the burning property being consumed in flames while they tried to get their acts together.

Pretty hard to imagine, right? Why? Because firefighters practice and practice and practice for the “real thing” so that when they’re called to a fire, they came jump right into effective action to minimize the damage.

Organizational crisis management teams are, all too often, more like that hapless firefighting team described above because – even after receiving professional training on best practices in crisis management – they don’t practice their new skills on their own or with professionals. They get one-time media training and ignore professional advice that they MUST train to retain any new skills learned. The organization might conduct an initial desktop exercise but then no more for years, if that. And along with that, the contents of crisis-related plans tend to age into uselessness over time unless they’re refreshed as well.

Wise organizational leaders inculcate training and refresher training into corporate practices. One of our clients, for example, mandates refresher media training for spokespersons at least twice a year and tabletop (and similar exercises) once a year. They’re in the travel industry, highly impacted by today’s current events, but their teams work smoothly because they practice and update materials regularly.

Don’t undermine your own crisis preparedness. Train, practice, simulate and stimulate your team!

Jonathan Bernstein
Founder & Chairman