The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) have just issued their first Crisis Management Report, in collaboration with International SOS. This new piece of research goes in-depth to analyse and review different approaches to crisis management during the ongoing pandemic, touching upon topics such as leadership, flexibility, and mental health. Overall, the authors did a good job delving into very practical issues that crisis managers had to face daily in the past 18 months or so. Rather than focusing on the theory, this report focuses on the practice, bringing the reader into the real-life challenges of those in the trenches.
The publications is articulated over four main sections: crisis management structure, interaction and collaboration, planning for a crisis, and technology in a crisis.
Crisis management structure
Centralization versus decentralization emerges as a key theme in this section, with participants showing a preference for the former. Still, some have regional teams that deal directly with a crisis. The survey highlights the importance of cultural awareness, which is an emerging yet extremely important topic for the resilience community. Being able to tailor response plans to different cultures, legislations, and working habits is instrumental to overseeing a global event such as Covid-19.
On a similar note, the data also reveals a focus on mental health during a crisis, which perhaps is an indication of how the resilience world is becoming more considerate of human aspects. Personal and organizational peculiarities need to be reflected in the approach to crisis management, as it is possible to observe by the several interviews included in the analysis.
Interaction and collaboration
The report clearly mirrors the idea that “no-one-size-fits-all” in business continuity management. The direct quotes from professionals who participated to the study detail different approaches according to different needs and organizational shapes. Flexibility and agility were two key factors in managing the pandemic and they both stemmed from a newfound collaboration among departments. During the outbreak, different departments had to start talking to each other, which allowed management to observe the benefits of a closer interaction. Apparently, this also had an impact on bringing BCM closer to strategic decisions, which has always been a challenge.
Planning for a crisis
Participants revealed how most pandemic plans that were in place before the actual crisis ended up becoming obsolete or inaccurate for the Covid-19 challenge. Some had to build a new one from scratch, while others simply had to adjust them to the ongoing situation. Perhaps the greatest benefit from having a BCM and crisis management team came from having dedicated resources to help the organization move through the crisis, rather than having a plan ready to respond to every situation. To improve on their response capabilities, participants mentioned actions such as investments in technology, training and homeworking.
Technology in a crisis
The report concludes with a favourable take on technology, as professionals reveal how the use of virtual tools, such as messaging apps and specific software, increased during the crisis. They also explained how they hope the adoption of advanced tools will extend beyond the Covid-19 crisis.