There are obviously different kinds of crises. At the NHS, working in public health, it’s about life, severely constrained life, and death. Planning for life-changing disasters and trying to keep people safe. In the corporate world, as Volkswagen are finding out in the furore about rigged emissions tests for some of its diesel vehicles, it’s about reputation management – about keeping the confidence of your investors, customers and employees because when that goes, so too does your business.
These are all crises for the people involved. And there’s one set of behaviours, a template if you like, that can be applied in every one of these situations to help you manage the impact of a crisis for you or your organisation.
I learned the secret of this template working in public health in NHS Lothian and honed it further at Midlothian Council, where I led on recovery from three separate crises. One was a data security incident, leading to a record fine and UK-level bad publicity, the second was extended public disorder following the relocation of a convicted rapist and the third was a public health incident leading to the demolition of a council estate. In all three we followed the same proven crisis response template – all built on honesty and transparency – and managed the situations to minimise the potential harm to the people we served.