We spoke about two major issues that needed to be addressed in the scenario. First, can the scenario be justified? Secondly, does the scenario provide issues that will exercise all the members of the crisis management team?
Can the scenario be justified?
One of the worst things a crisis management plan administrator can do is to develop a scenario that can’t be justified. If a member of the CMT challenges the scenario with a "This could never happen" comment, you have to be in a position to show them how it can, and how it has happened to some organization in the past.
If you are unprepared and have difficulty in justifying it as being a real situation, you will probably lose the attention of the CMT members. More importantly, you will lose the support of the other members of the CMT.
Why do I worry about the plausibility of the scenario?
Many of you who know me remember when I used to give 12 weeks of seminars each year during the 1980s and 90s. As one of the exercises I gave during the seminars, I would ask the participants to develop and document a disaster scenario. Many of the attendee’s scenarios were what I might call "creative." In fact, some people may have called them "far out."
Now creative, or far out scenarios are fine. But if they generate a statement by a participant in the exercise such as, "This could never happen," you have to be able to justify your scenario. On many occasions during the seminars, when I would ask attendees to give me an example of an organization in which this scenario occurred, they wouldn’t have one.
If the scenario can’t be justified, you face the possibility that the exercise could stop right there.
I was pleased that my friends had a good scenario, one that they had researched and could be justified. They had a list of similar situations that they could use in response to a "this could never happen" statement.
Does the scenario provide issues that will exercise all the members of the crisis management team?
A second major consideration when developing a scenario is to make it complete. A CMP administrator must insure there is at least one statement that requires each member of the crisis management team to use his or her section of the CMP.
We also talked about the members of their CMT (my friends) that would be participating in the exercise. They told me who would participate, and I mentioned it was comprised basically of the same members I identified in my book.
In the "Crisis Management Planning and Execution" book, I identified the members of the crisis management team as the managers/directors of the following departments: facilities (properties); security; public relations; human resources; legal; insurance; finance; purchasing (procurement); communications (voice and data); transportation; administration; information technology and internal audit.
If you develop a scenario in which a member of the CMT has nothing to do during the exercise, you’re going to hear from them. They may ask if they’re not important enough to receive something to do in the scenario. They’ll want to know why they’re there. Why did they waste a couple of hours that they could have used for something really important? And rightfully so!
I actually experienced this attitude early in my career when one of the participants in an exercise that I had prepared for my client, made it clear to me that they did not appreciate being called to the exercise, and then be left out, as though they weren’t important. I learned my lesson, and have passed it along to all my clients since then. To ensure I’ve included every member of the team, I usually work on developing two to three issues for each member of the CMT they will have to address during the exercise.
Needless to say I was impressed when my friends addressed this point with me and explained the various issues they had in the scenario that would exercise all members of their CMT.
I’ve often heard people say that one of the "add-on" values to attending the DRJ’s conference is the opportunity to network. Well I feel very comfortable in saying that I networked with my friends, and I believe it was valuable to both parties.
"Appeared in DRJ's Fall 2007 Issue"