There’s a well known saying that “time flies when you’re having fun”. But time also flies when you’re up against it and an acute shortage of time is one of the characteristics of a crisis.
Effective crisis or incident management is largely about getting on top of the situation as quickly as possible; making key decisions, particularly in the early stages, that really make a difference. Because, unsurprisingly, the quicker we start to get a grip on the situation and begin to exert some influence and control, the more likelihood there is of a successful resolution. And, guess what, the longer we take to get on top of things the more we find ourselves reacting to events rather than having any influence over them and the likelihood of any sort of success dwindles.
The early period of a crisis is sometimes referred to as “the golden hour” – in reality it may be several hours or it may just be a few minutes, depending on the particular crisis – but it’s the time when the key decisions that we make (or don’t make) have a huge impact on the outcome.
Those involved in the crisis or incident management team need to be able to get stuck in quickly and make things happen. So they need to have the tools and the authority to make decisions and be able to do so quickly and effectively under pressure. They need to know what’s expected of them and they need to be prepared. So they need to be adequately trained and they need to have rehearsed.
“Procrastination is the thief of time” is another well-known saying. But procrastination is also the enemy of effective crisis management and something the crisis or incident management team can’t afford. So it’s not good enough to merely have a plan. Those involved in crisis or incident management need to have the capability to go with it.