Note: The following is an excerpt taken from my new book, Crisis Ready–Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, which is available for purchase on Amazon.
Whom should you include within your crisis management governance?
As a high-level overview, there should typically be three main groups within your crisis management governance model. While this structure may vary from organization to organization, using this approach as a starting point will help you fit this model to your organizational structure and needs. It is also worth noting that the names of these three groups are descriptive for the book (and this article); they are not the actual names you should use within your organization! These three groups are:
- The leadership team
- The responsible team
- The scenario-specific assessment groups
Editor’s note: While the book, “Crisis Ready”, goes into detail about each of these teams, this article focuses on the latter–your scenario-specific assessment groups. If you’d like to learn more about each of these groups, and gain a precise roadmap for designing the proper governance model for your organization, order your copy of “Crisis Ready” here.
The purpose of your scenario-specific assessment groups
Your scenario-specific assessment groups are responsible for assessing the initial potential impact of a given situation, and determining whether it needs to be escalated to the crisis management team, i.e.: the responsible and leadership teams. Depending on the identified risk, different people may be needed for this role, which is why these groups should be scenario-specific.
For example, consider a cybersecurity crisis. In such a crisis, your IT team may be the first to detect the incident. But upon initial assessment, they aren’t the right group, in and of themselves, to determine whether the incident constitutes a corporate crisis. They can only see the situation through their lens, which does not provide the full scope on potential impact to the organization. Therefore, you want to make sure to have a subset group of internal experts that the IT team knows to call in, to help them assess the potential scope and breadth of the situation and decide whether escalation is necessary. For a cybersecurity crisis, this group may include someone from your legal department, your compliance department, your risk management department, and any other department that the situation impacts.
The goal here is to have a group of qualified individuals that will quickly gather to determine whether the incident needs escalation. You want to ensure prompt escalation in the event of a potential crisis while also ensuring that you do not call leadership out of their busy schedules when a situation does not merit their attention. Not every situation is black and white. You need to account for many potential gray zones, and this is the group responsible for assessing them.
Roles and responsibilities of this group include:
- Quickly gathering with the appropriate members of this team.
- Assessing the initial scope and potential impact of a given incident.
- Determining whether the incident needs to be escalated, and to whom.
A tool to help your teams properly assess and escalate an incident
Having a process for assessing and escalating a given incident is an essential part of your crisis ready program. To provide you with a baseline of what this might look like, following is a high-level escalation protocol overview. Feel free to download this as a resource and adapt it to the structure, needs, and objectives of your organization.
Remember: In order to properly assess the given scope and impact of a situation, you need to first define what a “crisis” vs. an “issue” is for your organization.
High-level escalation protocol overview–for your use
Interested in learning more?
If you’d like to learn more about developing a solid and scalable crisis management governance model, as well as how to implement a crisis ready culture that will enable you to build an INVINCIBLE brand, order your copy of Crisis Ready–Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, on Amazon, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about bulk pricing for your entire team.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.