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Deliberate Planning for a Future Crisis

Many organizations around the world have devoted considerable time and resources into developing and maintaining crisis response plans. Some of these plans are quite thorough and voluminous in nature, but when put to the test in an actual crisis, their effectiveness can be questionable at best. There are two famous quotes that can provide some insight into organizational crisis management planning. The first quote is by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his remarks at the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference in November 1957. President Eisenhower stated, “plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” The second famous quote is from former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Mike Tyson. He is often quoted as saying “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” So, what do these two quotes tell us about crisis planning? Is there sufficient return on organizational investment to make crisis planning actually worth the time and resources dedicated to it? The answer is of course, yes. A plan is critical to successfully overcoming the challenges of a crisis. We all know that intuitively, but many organizations still do not get it right. A crisis response plan goes by many names, depending on the organization and the industry. But they all essentially perform the same function as they are typically a point of reference for ongoing and future operations. So, what did President Eisenhower mean about the planning process being more important than the plan itself? In a crisis, a plan is not merely a document, but a pre-determined methodology designed, from its inception, to be the means of managing complex operations in a dynamic environment. By utilizing a deliberate planning process, an organization should undergo a multistep effort intended to develop an agreed upon methodology for preparing for a future crisis. This deliberate process should ensure that the team charged with responding to a future crisis understands their role and has the resources and Techniques, Tactics and Procedures (TTPs) in place to overcome some of the challenges they may face. Mike Tyson was one of the most dominant heavyweight boxers of his day due to his furious and devastating boxing style. Time and again he completely overwhelmed many of his opponents and immediately disrupted the plans the opposing team had in place to defeat him. This situation can happen during a crisis as well. As we can see with the cascading impacts of a large-scale natural disaster, organizations can become overwhelmed quickly by the pace and scope of the situation. These overwhelming situations have the potential to introduce unexpected variables and challenges that may not have been foreseen during the planning process. For example, during the response to the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, who would have foreseen the need to simultaneously respond to one of the worst nuclear accidents in history? By conducting a deliberate planning process, an organization develops some common TTPs that can be applied to any crisis. Team members hone the skills necessary to enable them to improvise and collaborate in the development of solutions to problems at the lowest organizational level possible. Through training and familiarization with the organizational plan, this improvisation should still support the overall strategic intent of the organization’s senior leadership as well as meet the tactical requirements on the ground. During the planning process leaders can develop a better understanding of their organization’s capabilities and weaknesses. Through this process they have the opportunity to foster relationships with internal and external stakeholders that may be vital in meeting the needs of a future crisis. It is crucial for an organization to have a crisis response plan, but it is much more important for an organization to develop and maintain an ongoing deliberative planning process that will put them in position to pivot operationally when the circumstances require deviation from the plan. A prepared team should be the goal and the planning process is how to achieve that goal. The Meridian Team of experts can assist organizations in developing a deliberative planning effort designed to prepare for a future crisis utilizing methods and practices that have been successfully tested by some of the most significant disasters in recent history. To learn more about how we can help, please visit our website at: HOME | meridian (meridianstrategicserv.com) Seamus Leary is the President of Meridian Strategic Services, Inc. Prior to his current role, Seamus was a Federal Coordinating Officer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the former Emergency Management Director for Orange County, New York. Seamus received his Masters of Public Administration from Marist College, School of Management and his undergraduate degree from Norwich University, Military College of Vermont.

The Returning Workforce – Confidence Survey

As the COVID-19 vaccination campaign continues, organizations across the United States are returning to the physical workspace. The reality is that for a variety of reasons COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future. Organizations planning to reopen must communicate how they intend to do so safely. As the COVID-19 vaccination campaign continues, organizations across the United States are returning to the physical workspace. The reality is that for a variety of reasons COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future. Organizations planning to reopen must communicate how they intend to do so safely. The requirements placed on organizations by local, state and federal agencies for safely returning a workforce to the office can be complicated and time consuming to implement. Meridian, and its strategic partners, can help your organization develop and implement a plan to safely resume your onsite activities. Since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, members of the Meridian Team have successfully provided front line assistance to public and private sector entities. We are ready to help your organization redefine its new normal. Conducting a post-return Confidence Survey provides feedback from the workforce that can be used by management to assess sustainability of the return to work strategy. It provides an opportunity for management to identify measures that may be too extreme and elevate lingering concerns. Following up with this survey will provide a good tool for comparison with the perceptions and climate observations identified in the pre-return Employee Survey. The Meridian Team is composed of highly experienced Emergency Managers, Law Enforcement, Engineering, and Business Continuity professionals who have held senior leadership positions during many of the significant disasters in the past twenty years. This vast experience can support any organization implement a risk-based business continuity program that will enhance its overall effectiveness. Meridian and its colleague, Ackcellent Consulting, can assist with risk management by applying lessons learned and best practices from a variety of industries to facilitate the organization’s phased and risk-based return process that restores the confidence of your clients, workforce, investors, directors, and managers. There is a pathway forward for return to work that can make your organization stronger and reduce the impacts of future man-made and natural disasters. Meridian and its strategic partners promote a culture of preparedness and resiliency. Let us help! To learn more about how we can help, please visit our website at: www.meridianstrategicserv.com Helpful Links Pew Charitable Trust https://www.pewresearch.org/methods/u-s-survey-research/questionnaire-design/ Society for Human Resource Management Managing Employee Surveys (shrm.org) Survey Monkey https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/coronavirus-return-to-work-survey-template/