The Four Stages of Crisis Management

Article #1 in a series exploring the business world’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. This series was inspired by the America Reopens Handbook, which was created by the BizBreakthru team and is available to members

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It is a fundamental tenet of crisis management that organizations are always at some stage of a crisis. This is especially true as we enter the response and recovery stages of the COVID-19 pandemic that has beset the world. It might feel like we’ve been stuck in our homes getting cabin fever alongside our families forever. To some extent, that is true. Crisis management experts argue quite convincingly that we must always be in one of the four stages of crisis management.

The four stages are:

1. Emergency Response. In this stage, an organization has activated its crisis response team (CRT) and is actively responding to a crisis by executing its crisis management plan (CMP), maintaining active communication with all stakeholders, measuring the effectiveness of its response and preparing a crisis-specific recovery plan

2. Recovery. In this stage, an organization is recovering from a crisis, executing its crisis-specific recovery plan, continuing to communicate with stakeholders and measuring the effectiveness of its recovery efforts

3. Prevention/Mitigation. In this stage, an organization’s CRT is actively updating its CMP to take into consideration learnings from the first two stages, applying techniques such as root cause analysis, quantitative risk analysis and other approaches to prioritize and minimize risks

4. Preparedness. In this stage, an organization’s CRT is meeting regularly and preparedness training is being executed

When COVID-19 reared its ugly head, were you prepared? Most companies were not. These unprepared companies included many employers of first responders and health care providers — individuals on the front line of the response to COVID-19.

So if even first responders weren’t ready for this, it’s no wonder that SMBs have been hit particularly hard. Crisis response teams, continuity plans and crisis management plans are not concepts that traditionally have gotten a lot of attention among small businesses and even mid-sized businesses. And even in larger organizations—where demands from insurance providers, investors and other stakeholders have forced managers and leaders to pay some attention to these important concepts—they are often given short shrift.

No so any longer. Every organization must increase its preparedness for the next Coronavirus-like crisis. 

We’ll explore our response to this crisis in much greater detail in a series of articles that will follow.

This series was inspired by the America Reopens Handbook, which was created by the BizBreakthru team and which is available to members.

How has your organization responded to COVID-19? Let us know! Share your comments below!


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