How to respond to catastrophic events
4. What’s the fix?
Black swans remain unexpected, so there is no way to prevent them. But you can prepare to minimize their impact and position your organization to recover as quickly as possible.
What companies need is an understanding of how to guide an effective response - principles and protocols that can be easily adapted to each unique situation.
- Definition, ownership and communication of catastrophic event response protocols
Adopt event-management protocols and train for an event before it occurs.
- Clearly defined, pre-established emergency management goals and values
Establish clearly-defined goals and values so all responders can make decisions rapidly and assess the effectiveness of response actions − even before a formal plan is developed.
- Empowerment of local responders to take action
Enabling local responders to use established emergency response procedures can result in more rapid resolution and containment.
- Parallel planning and execution
Provide several response options, prioritizing them so secondary plans can be immediately implemented should the preceding response fail.
- Inventories of financial, personnel, physical and knowledge resources
Leaders should continually survey team members and outside supporters to build complete inventories of these resources.
- Leverage of external perspective and experience
Responders should be receptive to external perspectives and prepared to incorporate these into the event's management.
- Avoidance of false economy
Elevated response costs often pale in comparison to the recovery cost of an accident that expands in duration and geography.
- Rejection of political motivations
Responders at all levels must remain apolitical when combating an event.
- Confrontation of moral and ethical dilemmas
Decisions based only on what is legally defensible, politically expedient or self-serving can damage the company's reputation and adversely affect future business operations.
- Acceptance of alternative viewpoints
Contrarian viewpoints may seem disruptive and time-consuming, but can provide a different perspective against which to evaluate your response.
- Event recognition
Define the state of the event to recognize and implement response protocols.
- Organizational deployment
Contain event conditions and minimize adverse impacts by staffing an off-site response team rapidly, lead by a single decision-maker.
- Situation assessment
Understand the issues faced and outcomes desired to effectively select and execute appropriate actions.
- Alternative identification
Identify many prioritized alternatives.
- Alternative selection
Evaluate each alternative for its associated risks and consequences, benefits, and the organization's implementation capabilities.
- Alternative execution
Follow the established performance standards and procedures for predicted events when executing plans.
- Continuous improvement
Assess all levels of the organization during performance and the incorporate lessons learned into decisions, procedures and training programs.
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Answers to your questions, at a glance
Prepared for the catastrophic black swan?
- "Black swans" are unexpected, unpreventable, and catastrophic events. These guidelines can help guide your organization's response to recover as quickly and effectively as possible.