Crisis Planning for the New Paradigm

This would normally be the time of year when we’re planning ahead for the next; Looking at how we want to progress, budgets that need to be secured, pinning down dates for training, and if you’re part of your organisations resilience planning, considering when you might run exercises or simulations to rehearse your response to crisis scenarios. The uncertainty of 2020 has changed that. In the past we may have paid too much attention planning for known risks – the white swans. But this year has shown that our planning focus needs to deal with the unknown – the black swans. We can do this by building our flexibility and resilience to be able to respond to whatever comes our way and adjusting our approach accordingly.

Existing plans and processes for crises are not flexible enough

We used our October 2020 Resilience Barometer  this year to better understand how organisations are planning for uncertainty, how companies build their resilience and in particular their processes and plans for dealing with crises (i.e. crisis management or business continuity plans).

We found that for many organisations, the plans they had in place were either not flexible enough; or the risks that were planned for weren’t expansive enough to manage the unsettling challenges of the pandemic and economic and social uncertainty in 2020.

Almost half (45%) of respondents across the G20 reported that they needed to activate their business continuity or crisis management plans or processes during 2020.

But nearly 4 in 10 found that their crisis plans were “insufficient to deal with the scale, complexity, and extent of the crisis”. Around 3 in 10 found that they had “used some plansbut COVID ‘hasn’t really fallen into any of our business continuity or crisis categories’”; another 3 in 10 stated their company “declared a crisis, but had to manage it in a different way to how the plans suggest”.

Greater investment dedicated to resilience and planning for uncertainty in 2021

It is a positive sign that 9 in 10 respondents agreed that their company has a greater focus on planning for unknown risks. Half (51%) said that in the next year they expected their businesses to identify potential crises and assess crisis readiness, and the same number expected that their response plans would be updated.

Again, almost half (47%) expected that they would move beyond reviewing documents and plans to invest in preparing their leadership to manage unexpected crises.

Across all sectors the Tech industry reported the highest response (94%) in spending more time and money planning to be able to respond for unforeseen incidents  in 2021; potentially as they feel a heightened vulnerability from increased cyber security threats and the additional risks created by the pandemic.

Planning for the new paradigm:

If 2020 has taught us anything from a crisis resilience perspective, it is that we have to write plans and develop processes for the new paradigm that we find ourselves in. This means that we need to:

  • Be flexible and principles based – not just scenario based
  • Accommodate for people being able to work and engage from anywhere
  • Be more expansive in our thinking and challenge ourselves about the possible outcomes

At FTI we provide our clients with an evaluation of their crisis preparedness through our Crisis Resilience Review which looks at best practice and standards, as well as the changing needs of companies and industries as a result of 2020. If you’d like more information on the type of support we offer, please contact us at [email protected].


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