To a greater or lesser degree most of us are creatures of habit. Sub consciously or otherwise we like routines so that we can go about our daily activities in a planned and organised fashion that suits our personal style.

Commuting to work is one example where people demonstrate very rigid habits. If you happen to do the same journey into work for a couple of days you start to recognise people – it’s easy – they get the same train at the same time and sit in the same seat each day. On the way to the office they pick up their paper, coffee or have a cigarette before arriving at their desk within a minute or two of the time they did yesterday. One can almost write down the sequence in which people will arrive for work.

When something goes wrong it can get really interesting as you watch how people react. It could be as minor as a tourist sitting in a commuter’s regular seat – ‘How dare they do that? – the guy’s day is completely wrecked.

I experienced a severe delay on a journey at the start of the week – should have been two hours it ended up being more than three hours – compensation claim is on the way! It was a great opportunity to see how people behaved, how they managed their personal crisis.

The stress levels from some people were almost tangible as they frantically tried to reorganise schedules or brief colleagues to represent them in meetings. Not sure if it was crisis management, desperation or blind panic but it was loud and fast.

Others were more relaxed, with almost an air of resignation, or maybe the delay didn’t constitute a crisis in their view. They may have even allowed for the risk of a delay and taken prudent steps to avoid the crisis impacting them. Effective risk managers?

Then there was another group who did nothing. I’m not sure they even knew there was a delay, knew there was a crisis. They were completely oblivious to the communications, noise and activity around them. No signs of stress from these guys. No crisis for them. Watching them I’m not sure whether some of them knew which day of the week it was let alone where the train was going and when it was due to arrive.

So the observations are:-
• A crisis for some is not a crisis for all.
• People can react very differently to the same crisis.
• Some people go into panic mode when faced with a crisis.
• The timing of a crisis can make a difference to the impact.
• People don’t always respond well to changes to their routine.

The work I am doing at the moment is heavily focussed on Crisis Management so I guess the principles were uppermost in my mind as I, along with some of my fellow passengers, implemented our Crisis Responses.

Irrespective of the crisis, there are some fundamental steps that are always required and whether through reference to a plan or sub consciously they need to be done.

A train delay is one thing, but when the survival of your organisation is at stake I recommend you don’t leave it to chance.

April 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm
Return to All News
Category: Crisis Management
Tags: ,