We have all been in meetings where attendees have brought along extra people either to add expertise, to bring extra weight to their argument or simply to try and dominate the meeting.

Whatever the reason, the one thing we all know about meetings is that as they increase in size the decision making becomes more difficult and takes longer to be achieved.

If the meeting happens to be your Incident or Crisis Management Team any extra complexity or delay introduced here is reducing the team’s effectiveness in dealing with the incident. Your organisation is suffering whilst the deliberations continue.

The way Incident and Crisis Management Teams are structured and operate is of course different to a conventional meeting in many respects but nevertheless there are some important points to consider.

A Crisis Management Team has to be trained and ready to deal with a huge range of potential situations so it follows that the team will need to consist of a range of relevant subject matter experts just in case they are needed for whatever the next crisis is. It could be quite a large team. Therefore, depending on the nature of the actual crisis faced not every team member will be required every single time. What do you do? You have a dilemma? Do you keep the whole team working on the crisis because they may be able to help out or spread the workload or do you slim the team down to just the relevant guys for the situation?

Bearing in mind the points I raised in the first few sentences above, my approach would be to ensure the whole team are aware of the situation i.e. briefed, but then quickly get the team down to an optimal size based on the subject matter experts required, key roles and leadership. It is always easier to trim the size of a team down rather than seek additional resources when you desperately need them.

The protocol does, however need to include actions to keep the non-active team members updated on the crisis in case the situation changes and you need to bring them back into play.

We should also remember that when Incident and Crisis Management Teams convene, they operate differently to regular, everyday style meetings. Rather than having the luxury of being able to deliberate and debate over a topic the team needs to act quickly and decisively without any unnecessary procrastination.

I can’t give you an answer to say what the optimum size of an Incident or Crisis Management Team is. It really depends on the size and complexity of your organisation and even the exact circumstances the team is faced with. What I can say with some certainty is that we all know when a meeting is getting too big and too unwieldy so my advice is to look out for that point and don’t be frightened to apply some fine tuning. Provided you keep the guys in the background updated you can always bring them back in if you need them.

July 8, 2013 at 7:34 pm
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Category: Crisis Management
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