3 Things Your Organisation Needs in a Crisis

There are 3 key things research shows you must to have in place before a crisis hits, says Morten Hanson in his latest Harvard Business Review Blog.

And as his credentials are impeccable – he’s a professor at the the University of California, Berkeley, and at INSEAD, France, and the author of Collaboration and coauthor of Great by Choice - we’re giving his thoughts the time of day!

1. Productively paranoid leaders.   Being paranoid for the sake of it just raises everyone’s blood pressure until we’re all so over it that we’re massively under-paranoid.  But, says Hanson, we need to take on board Bill Gates’s notion that our fear should guide us too.  Hanson’s research clearly shows that CEOs who were hyper-vigilant were more successful.

2. A system that joins the dots horizontally.  Information sharing is hard at the best of times but when that information isn’t being gathered centrally you still need a way to connect the dots so you can learn that something out-of-the-ordinary is going down in a timely manner.

Hanson has two tactics to offer:  (a) less senior staff should pass information sideways as well as upwards, (b) less senior staff should be authorised to ensure that information is being acted upon as well as passed on and, if not, to take action themselves in the knowledge that they have management support to do so.

3. A system that can handle information overload.   Handling information is hard; creating common pictures and complete understandings of a crisis can often feel almost impossible during a fast-moving event.  Hanson suggests that systems to handle information that are useful in a crisis – including ensuring there are sufficient staff and managers to deal with it – can be cut during harder times which means a crisis is likely to have even more negative an impact if the company is ‘lean’ when it hits.

Hanson reminds us that during and after a crisis we’re judged on the preparation measures we had in place before it occurs.

To read full article, which includes examples of crises that did and did not make use of these 3 things, click here.

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