There are some problems which seem very reluctant to go away.

In my last newsletter I made reference to the good news that the number of new cases of Ebola recorded had dropped to below 100 per week. Only today I saw some statistics indicating that 150 new cases were reported last week in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The problem may have been eradicated in some countries but clearly not all.

Meanwhile the Swine Flu situation in India continues to be monitored with over 32000 cases and almost 2000 deaths but no mainstream news reporting.

We watch. We listen. We wait. We do nothing.

The game changer is when the impact reaches our organisation or our people. Suddenly everyone is reaching for the pandemic (or epidemic) plans to see what they need to do………or actually is it what they should have done?

Planning for such events has moved on a bit from the early models we knew and organisations are wising up to the idea that a proactive stance can be of real benefit. It is well known that the response and preparations in the early stages of a crisis often determine how good the eventual outcome will be. In other words, for these types of event, waiting until the impact has materialised will cause the response to be reactive, to be on the back foot, to be less effective.

Now admittedly there will be challenges. Firstly resources, time and budgets are always scarce so any activities that are perceived as falling into the ‘just in case’ category are going to struggle for attention. Secondly we are all busy and there is often a tendency for people to lose interest, to lose enthusiasm for crisis events that run for extended periods of time.

Operating with a clear and well defined plan where the inputs in terms of effort and time required can be flexed to suit the exact circumstances at different stages of the crisis can be a huge help in managing your team’s expectations and securing their commitment. Keep the communications flowing and remember to recognise the step changes when the activity or intensity needs to be adjusted. If you drop into a routine and appear to be just going through the motions with no real purpose you will lose your audience very quickly.

I am not suggesting we should all rush off for our pandemic (or epidemic) plans in response to the Ebola and Swine Flu situations mentioned above unless we are at risk of being impacted, and maybe that’s the point. Could we be affected and if so should we act now to reduce the impact or likelihood? And if we do act, what are the actions we can undertake to make a difference?

If this has prompted you to consider your approach why not begin by checking that your plans start way back in preventative, preparatory stage rather than simply dealing with the response after the impact has been realised?

March 25, 2015 at 8:31 pm
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Category: Crisis Management, Planning