What Does “Crisis” Mean to You?

Defining what constitutes a crisis for your organization

The word crisis means many things to many people. On the homepage of our website we share some of the most common categories of crises, but it’s nowhere near a complete list (mostly because we wouldn’t have room for anything else on the page!). The reality is that what constitutes a crisis is different for every organization. An issue that could cause major interruptions in day-to-day business for one could be little more than a blip on the radar to another, which is why you can’t paste a one-size-fits-all plan for crisis management into any given situation.

We have our own general description, but we also have definitions of crises specific to a large variety of industries and business types. Now here’s a question – have you defined what constitutes a crisis for your own organization? If you haven’t, you’re risking over or under-estimating the reaction necessary for an issue. And, of course, beyond the initial issue itself there’s significant danger in misgauging the level of response needed. Too little response to a true crisis allows the situation to fester and spread, while an overly aggressive response to a relatively minor issue can elevate the problem to the level of true crisis in the eyes of stakeholders, bringing a whole new set of threats along for the ride.

If you haven’t sat down to define what a crisis is for your organization, and determine at least the most likely ways you’ll encounter issues, you’re inviting trouble. It’s not a fun meeting to hold, but it will save you significant pain down the road.

Erik Bernstein

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