Student Crisis Management Resource

Need some inspiration on how to create crisis management exercises with the ‘wow’ factor?

We look at one product that – even without purchasing it (it’s $30) reminded us how much we can do with a few fragments of story and the imaginations of our participants!

Younger employees lack experience by virtue of their age.  One organisation decided to create resources to train students to think strategically for their organisations during a crisis.

This resulting resource was so good it won the 2011 University of Michigan Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize in 2011 – and you don’t have to buy it to learn from it.

The materials create a role-playing simulation of a crisis at the fictional AquaStar Bottle Water Company.  The company has been accused of contaminating Michigan’s public water system.  Each student must adopt a given role and make real-tome decisions based on the rapidly changing business scenario.

It’s creators say, “They must make critical decisions that will develop their skills in leadership and communications within a highly volatile and stressful environment.

There’s all sorts of things you can do with this kind of scenario as these students, who filmed mock news coverage, show:

But what’s more important to us as business continuity planners is the reminder that “less is more” in some cases, and that we don’t have to create fabulously detailed exercises for them to work with our audiences.

These students have little experience of business (or grown-up life!) and yet their imaginations and common sense allow them to fill in gaps and – perhaps more importantly – have some fun with this exercise.  The lessons we can learn from this resource include the following:

  • The imagination of your participants – if you allow them to use them – can save you lots of writing/work
  • It’s not always the ‘right people’ who take on emergency roles in a crisis
  • Practising when there is no crisis builds skills for when there is one
  • Adding a simple thing – like someone to “report” or a video camera to tape proceedings – can add a whole new dimension to post-exercise analysis (though we suggest you promise to and actually destroy the footage afterwards)
  • People will surprise you: some senior staff don’t manage well in a crisis whilst others that you may never have expected to (if you haven’t rehearsed them) step up to the plate when they feel it’s required

More detail on the product is available here.

(And for clarity, we have no affiliation – we just thought it was interesting!)

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