Welcome to the Virtual Conference
The question as to how people and organisations can become genuinely good at managing crises is not only an interesting discussion point but a critical issue in the new ‘crisis as normalcy’ world that we are moving into. Covid-19 is a powerful example (and wake-up call), but it is only one of a wide range of critical challenges that the world is facing, more than a few of which have the potential to escalate to truly existential threats.
The first responsibility is to understand what a genuine crisis looks like. Phrases such as ‘black swan’, ‘grey rhino’ and ‘wicked problems’ have become part of the lexicon used to try and describe this class of problem (which is good). However, as we have seen in multiple examples over the past months, it soon becomes clear that the vast majority of people who are using them do not understand what they mean, or their significance in terms of crisis planning and preparation (which is bad!).
Crises by their very nature are rare. They are also almost always unique, overwhelming and transcending the response plans that had been put in place to deal with them. These are not unexpected challenges – they are intrinsic to the very nature of a crisis event. If these characteristics are not present, then it is likely that the situation can be categorised as a ‘Major Incident’ (which organisations should have the capabilities to respond to) rather than a crisis (which they don’t).