Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ask Your Management Team If They Are Ready?

What a learning opportunity we have in the Japan triple disasters.

Consultants at the Institute for Crisis Management report back regularly that the initial crisis call was quickly compounded by a second or third or more crises.

In Japan the initial earthquake, one of the worst in modern history, quickly triggered the second crisis event – a major tsunami – and then damage to a major nuclear reactor complex.

Buildings were destroyed, people and property were swept away, electric service was disrupted and leaking radiation threatens thousands, if not millions of lives.

Your office, plant or other facility may never catch fire, blow-up, flood or be leveled by some natural disaster. But that doesn’t mean your operation will escape disruptions.

A crisis plan – three, in fact, should include an operational crisis plan, a communication plan and a continuity/recovery plan. They are essential to all well-managed organizations. That includes large and small businesses, manufacturing or service based, not-for-profits, public and higher education systems, health care operations and even religious organizations.

According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there are 104 nuclear power plants in the United States, and in spite of public attention on the earthquake zones up and down the west coast, the power plant at highest risk is on the Hudson River 24 miles north of New York City.

Who knew?

Do you know how many thousands of businesses, plants, hospitals, schools, not-for-profits, and religious organizations are in a 100-mile radius of that nuclear facility? Are you located there?

You don’t have to have a crisis to have a crisis. But, you do need to evaluate the risks around you, and plan for them, just in case.

It doesn’t have to be a nuclear power plant, either.

We created and executed a table-top exercise not long ago, for a corporate crisis team. It was in the food sector and the exercise was to test their ability to manage a food contamination crisis.

But, their corporate headquarters is near the interchange of a multi-lane expressway and major cross highway. So, an hour into the half-day exercise, we arranged for a call to their “war room” announcing that a fireman was in the lobby ordering all 300 employees to immediately evacuate because a hazardous semi-tractor load had just been dumped 500-yards from the back side of their office tower.

They had a contingency built-in to their crisis plan for an alternate command site, up-wind and far enough away to safely work from. They got an A+ for their planning and their execution.

Are you prepared?

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