As the world embarks on its fourth industrial revolution, the nature of crisis management continues to change. Across both public and private sectors, the immediacy of danger has never been more readily apparent, and companies are under more scrutiny than ever before.
In March Dataminr hosted an evening of lively and informative conversation with Paddy McGuinness, Senior Adviser at Brunswick Group and former UK Deputy National Security Advisor, and Ed Smith, author, journalist and current national selector for England Cricket. The pair discussed the current landscape of crisis management and how we can apply lessons from sport to the security and communications strategies for any business. The evening was led by Tim Willis, Director of Corporate Security for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Dataminr.
“We are living in a complex world,” asserted Paddy McGuinness. “Not just in a geopolitical sense, that much is readily apparent. There is also a tactical complexity to the current crisis management landscape. Reputational risk is so high on the boardroom agenda, and there are more ways than ever before for it to be brought under scrutiny.”
This notion was supported by Ed Smith, who told us that “the old adage, ‘falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after’ is more valid than ever in today’s fast-paced media landscape.”
78% of senior executives believe that real-time information has meant that teams need to act much faster than they did 5 years ago
Upon establishing the challenges of today’s digital world, the pair went on to outline the key priorities that modern businesses must consider when a crisis hits. Here are just three of the key takeaways from an evening of insightful conversation.
- “It is almost never the incident that gets you, it is your handling of it.” Paddy McGuinness
With a few exceptions, even if a crisis situation is eventually resolved at the base level, poor management and communication can make the situation worse. Being able to fix the root cause of a crisis is no longer sufficient to protect an organisation’s reputation. Senior officials must ensure that they are providing a consistent, accurate stream of information that demonstrates complete awareness of the whole picture.
- Preparedness is not just a policy document
When a crisis hits and senior executives are rushed into a boardroom, there is very little time or margin for error. Businesses cannot rely on just a written plan or a bi-annual crisis simulation session to prepare them for the real thing. A synergy must exist between the teams brought together in a crisis. To achieve this, crisis management and awareness must be a part of the lives of these officials. Enabling executives to have a continuous awareness of potential crises is one way to ensure that they are all on the same page and prepared to come together at a moment’s notice.
- Don’t just “do the media”
A key insight shared by Ed Smith, from his role as national selector for England Cricket, is that one should never just speak to the media without anything to announce. This is a lesson that can be applied to crisis management in a broader sense. First, it is vital for businesses to ensure that all of their stakeholders are aligned in their messaging as they make an announcement to the media. Arguably more important, however, is having the confidence to remain silent when there is nothing new to announce. Staying aware of the ongoing conversation through real-time alerting is vital to succeeding in both of these areas. “Never let yourself be put off by noises at the edge of the issue,” agreed Paddy McGuinness. He concluded that the first course of action in a crisis should be to establish a universally accepted way to bring in information from the outside world. Once done, executives can sift through the noise and align on the important matters that need to be addressed.
Thank you to all those who joined us for the first event in our executive series. Stay on the lookout for our next event, where we will continue to examine the ever-changing crisis landscape, and how technology continues to provide organisations with the tools to stay prepared.