The frequency of crisis events has raised questions on the role of the Board before and during a crisis. Janellis have been working with executive leadership teams in building their crisis management expertise for over ten years and understand that the Board has a key role in preparing for and responding to a crisis.
The role of the Board is to provide oversight and governance during ‘business as usual’and during a ‘crisis’ event.
The Board’s main role, prior to a crisis occurring, is ensuring that their organisation is prepared to effectively respond to a range of disruptive events.
Assurance needs to be provided to the Board so that they trust in the capabilities of the chief executive and the crisis management team. Members of the board need to be confident that the crisis management team can manage the strategic requirements of a crisis.
Clarity of expectations is critical in this relationship. The crisis management team needs to understand before the crisis event, what the board members require during the crisis response, and how they will support the associated organisational response. Conversely, the Board needs to ensure the executive team are fully cognisant of their expectations relating to the agreed strategic intent.
Board members should resist the urge to make too many demands on managements time during a crisis. The crisis management team members will have established relationships and processes and be best placed to understand the impacts across the organisation and to mobilise the appropriate resources.
An effective crisis management team should provide assurance and demonstrate critical thinking capabilities by: identifying the facts; identifying what is unknown; understanding the impacts across the organisation; considering most likely outcomes and worst case scenarios; identifying key stakeholders impacted and developing and communicating their plan.
This process will often take place with incomplete information and under immense time pressure. The crisis management team will ideally focus on managing the incident rather than managing the Board requirements. However, one of the key activities of the crisis chair is to provide situational awareness to the Board through regular and effective briefings, enabling the board members to support the crisis management team to maintain shareholder, regulator and community confidence.
Depending on the nature of the event and to ensure that the strategic objectives of the organisation are met, the Board may be called on to:
- Become a ‘sounding board’ to the crisis management team for significant strategic decisions that need to be made. This may be crucial to the effectiveness of the crisis chair and the crisis management team, depending on the size, complexity and scale of the crisis.
- Endorse the key strategic decisions and actions of the chief executive and crisis management team and provide Board level oversight regarding these key decisions.
- Liaise with key external stakeholders including the regulators, shareholders and the media, only as agreed upon by the crisis management communications team.
In what situations would the Board need to operate as a crisis team?
The role of the Board may change from a role of oversight to one of leadership where the crisis has a direct impact on the chief executive and/or their leadership team. Questions board members should be asking at this time are:
- Are any members of the crisis management team implicated or impacted by the crisis?
- Do the crisis management team have the skills and capability required to respond to this event?
- Do the crisis management team need additional support?
If the entire crisis management team and their alternates are unable to lead a crisis, the strategic decisions will lie with the Board and they will need to assemble and direct a new crisis management team.
What can the Board do to prepare for a crisis event?
Members of the Board have a highly influential role in crisis management preparedness. They should be asking targeted questions to executive leaders to ensure that an adequate level of preparedness has occurred and that capability exists at all levels within the organisation.
Key actions for the Board are to ensure that:
- Emerging risks are effectively monitored and that contingency plans are developed for significant emerging threats, as they are identified.
- The organisation has the demonstrated capability to respond to a range of strategic, operational, financial and environmental threats.
- There is a robust and strategic exercising program with scenario-based activities that develop critical thinking capabilities at multiple levels within the organisation including the incident, emergency and crisis level.
- The organisation has access to crisis, emergency and incident management tools to enable them to respond in a co-ordinated way that facilitates critical thinking.
- Members of the board understand how the organisation would respond to a crisis event, including key roles and responsibilities and; that board members have access to crisis management tools should they be required to lead a crisis event.
What is ‘better practice’ in Board level crisis management?
In working with organisations to develop a mature crisis management capability, opportunities arise to invite select members of the board to participate in the crisis management scenario-based activities. The Boards role in these activities can be as an observer, a ‘player’ in the scenario or simply to be briefed, as a rehearsal for what would happen in a real event.
Customised hypothetical-style activities can be designed specifically for board members to build their capability individually and collectively.
Organisations with high levels of trust between board members and the executive team are able to work together to build and maintain a mature crisis management capability.
If you have any specific questions on The Role of the Board in a crisis please email me at Natalie.Botha@Janellis.com.au or read more about our crisis management training and tools here. To register you interest in attending an event on this topic please visit our Events page.
This video highlights the importance of city-wide resilience, the role of business in building resilience and the value of a global partnership with 100 Resilient Cities.
Featuring Michael Berkowitz, CEO of 100 Resilient Cities and Natalie Botha, Managing Director of Janellis.
For more information on Janellis resilience capabilities:
- City Resilience
- City Resilience Workshops
- City Resilience Capability Reviews
- Organisational Resilience
For more information on 100 Resilient cities:
A few months ago I wrote an article on The role of the Board in a crisis and the need for clarity of expectations between the Board and the Executive, prior to a crisis occurring.
During a crisis, the role of the Board remains one of assurance and governance. In situations where the Executive are directly impacted or implicated, the Board will need to take an active leadership role but outside of those scenarios, it is the responsibility of the Crisis Management Team to lead the crisis response.
What is the role of the Executive in a crisis?
During a crisis, the Crisis Management Team (CMT), made up of members of the Executive, will quickly form to become the strategic thinking and decision making team for the organisation. As soon as a crisis is declared, key actions for the Crisis Management Team include:
- Distil and verify information received from within the organisation and externally and; clarify what is known and unknown.
- Understand the impacts across the organisation and community.
- Determine what strategic decisions need to be made immediately (often with incomplete information) and actions that need to be taken now and later.
- Understand the key stakeholders impacted and develop a strategy to communicate and engage effectively with all key stakeholders (including the Board).
In preparing to respond effectively to a crisis, the Executive need to have:
- Identified ‘catastrophic’ risks through scenario based activities.
- An integrated response model with clarity on roles and responsibilities.
- A capability development program that includes training and exercising.
- Access to crisis management tools that will enable and support a response.
- Regular reporting to the board and other key stakeholders to ensure alignment and assurance.
The Crisis Management Team, made up of key members of the Executive, are presented with significant challenges in a crisis.
The team will often be mobilised with very little notice. The incident may be uncontained or uncontrolled, putting the team in a high-stakes and high-pressure situation, with significant community and media interest.
The crisis team members need to have strong critical and creative thinking skills and; be able to made key decisions with conflicting or incomplete information, under time pressure and with intense scrutiny.
Key decisions made by the team may be reviewed at a later date and it is essential that there is evidence of clear decision making.
To support these teams for this significant role within their organisation, an on-going capability development and maintenance program needs to be in place.
Building capability through experiential learning
Scenario-based and training and the use of tools to support the crisis management team will provide assurance that the team has the capability to respond to a range of strategic, political, operational, financial and environmental threats.
Developing this capability at the most senior levels within the organisation has significant benefits outside of responding effectively to a crisis including:
- Building adaptive thinking capability that can be drawn upon for escalating or unknown risks that emerge.
- Enhanced critical and creative thinking capability that can be used during ‘business as usual’ and in responding to ‘slow burn’ or strategic risks.
- Uncovering blind spots by identifying risks that could lead to catastrophic events and; enhancing the identification of emerging threats to the organisation.
Janellis have been working with Executive Leadership Teams for over ten years in the specialist area of crisis management. Many leaders have strong intuitive capabilities to respond to a crisis but the complexity of a crisis will, by its very nature, be immensely challenging.
Individual and collective thinking capabilities are put to the test and tools and training will help the teams to challenge assumptions, ask the right questions and make decision that draw upon their combined experiences.
Key steps to building and maintaining this capability include: identification of ‘catastrophic’ risks through scenario based training; an integrated response model with clarity on roles and responsibilities; access to tools that will enable an effective response; training and testing of the crisis management team and regular engagement with key stakeholders within the organisation and externally.
Janellis is an enterprise consulting firm working with leading organisations across many industry sectors. Janellis helps organisations execute their strategy and are specialists in organisational resilience; risk, compliance and assurance; crisis and emergency management.
Our crisis management tools have been embedded in organisations across a number of industries in countries including Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and the USA.
Janellis have recently become a partner of the 100 Resilient Cities, an organisation pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. This partnership provides our crisis management tools to member cities around the world. The tools are particularly valuable for cities with significant risks and vulnerable communities within those cities.
Following the recent Government announement, there is a renewed focus on the ownership and resilience of Australia’s national critical infrastructure. A joint media release with Senator The Hon George Brandis QC stated:
“With increased privatisation, supply chain arrangements being outsourced and offshored, and the shift in our international investment profile, Australia’s national critical infrastructure is more exposed than ever to sabotage, espionage and coercion.
We need to manage these risks by adopting a coordinated and strategic framework. This challenge is not something the Commonwealth can address alone”.
The diverse number of threats and the need for an ‘all hazards’ approach presents significant challenges to owners and operators of critical infrastructure. In 2006 Janellis pioneered an integrated organisational resilience framework with critical infrastructure providers and key elements of the framework continue to be embedded in industries including: aviation; banking and finance; energy; transport; water and government agencies.
Areas of focus:
- Clarity on the role of the Executive and Board in a crisis, including their role in ensuring the organisation is prepared for an incident, emergency or crisis.
- Scenario-based planning at the Executive and Strategic level to uncover and mitigate against ‘catastrophic’ risks the organisation may face.
- Crisis Communications and its effective integration within the crisis emergency and incident management framework.
- Multi-agency Emergency Management Capability Awareness Programs providing multi-faceted resilience protection for key assets.
- The effective use of decision support tools for Incident, Emergency and Crisis Management Teams to enhance integrated critical thinking and decision making.
- Exercise development process to facilitate scenario-based exercises that build capability, highlighting areas for improvement and provide assurance to key stakeholders.
- Resilience reporting to provide assurance to the Executive, Board and other key stakeholders.
The ‘all hazards’ approach to building resilience is growing in awareness and acceptance due to increasingly complex and unpredictable impacts. Developing and maintaining capability is a key requirement for critical infrastructure owners and operators and; non-critical infrastructure organisations who are operating in higher risk industries.
Greater levels of assurance are being sought by key stakeholders that teams and organisations have the capability to respond and resilience reporting is being used to assess the capacity and capability for specific assets and across the enterprise.
For more information on the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Assessment and Assurance Tools or the Organisational Resilience Frameworkplease email us at Janellis info@Janellis.com.au.
There are serious industry concerns New South Wales could be hit with blackouts from tomorrow afternoon due to record high energy demand, as the state grapples with some of the worst heatwave conditions that NSW has ever seen over the next three days.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has issued an alert predicting a tightening balance between supply and demand with forecast electricity demand to reach around 14,700 megawatts (MW), the highest ever demanded in NSW.
The AEMO said it was working to reduce the need for so-called “load shedding events”, like the one which saw 90,000 properties lose power in Adelaide on 8 February 2017. “Load shedding could occur instantly if the demand supply balance changed rapidly.”
Blackouts could happen instantly to protect supply. The resultant consequence for critical infrastructure owner/operators and other business though, could be catastrophic, resulting in widespread business and operating disruptions.
BUSINESS RESILIENCE ADVICE
The key to effective business resilience in times of severe weather forecasts, such as the one NSW is facing over the next 72 hours is not to be REACTIVE. Organisations and businesses need to be PROACTIVE. Pre posture your readiness and response arrangements and activate your incident, emergency and crisis planning before the potential business impact.
The following key readiness initiatives have been provided to assist your organisational readiness in the face of this potential severe heatwave emergency;
1. Avoid a delayed organisational response. Ensure relevant staff and managers are aware of your internal notification and escalation triggers and processes that will activate pre determined levels of response, as and if required.
2. Ensure you have nominated and confirmed ‘on call’ membership of your incident, emergency and crisis teams, and that relevant contact details are current and tested.
3. Conduct an Operational Readiness Check of both your automated incident/emergency notification systems and Incident Control Centres/Rooms.
4. Situational Awareness. Convene a team briefing (face to face or virtual) with your IMT, EMT and/or CMT to establish situational awareness of potential environmental and business risks and threats. Develop and agree upon pre response plans to mitigate potential business impacts of excessive heat conditions.
5. Staff and customer safety is priority. Ensure staff and customer welfare plans have been established to mitigate potential adverse health effects as a result of the forecast heatwave conditions. Reference state agency health alerts and warnings.
6. Ensure key staff are aware of established business continuity plans and what their associated roles and responsibilities within these plans are.
7. Reduce single supply point vulnerability. Seek assurance from key critical service providers that they have enacted operational and business readiness plans to ensure business continuity.
8. Catastrophic bushfire forecast. For those businesses that have close proximity to, or are located on the bushland urban interface, ensure you maintain situational awareness via the accessing of the NSW Rural Fire Service website and Apps.
Finally, it is a lot easier to escalate and activate early, then de-escalate if not required, rather than explain to your key stakeholders why the impact of your business disruption may have been mitigated if only you had acted early.
If you require any assistance, advice or support relating to business readiness and resilience, please have no hesitation in contacting myself on 0498 853 736.
100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.
Janellis became a Global Platform Partner or 100RC in 2016.
Watch this video to learn more about the 100 Resilient Cities Movement…
The festive season is now upon us, and many thoughts and planning will soon be turning from work to relaxation over the Christmas period. However, organisations need to remain cognisant that these holiday periods do not provide immunity for a crisis to either develop, or impact their business.
Having had to coordinate the response to numerous emergencies and crisis over the past 30 years, (many of these occurring during the holiday period) I acknowledge that it is during these times when organisational susceptibility to crisis events are amplified for a myriad of reasons, such as;
- limited staff onsite
- unavailability of staff to respond
- decreased monitoring of risks
- volatility of severe weather events (flooding, storms, fires).
If I were to provide a Christmas Wish List with just 6 key actions for organisations to implement to enhance their emergency and crisis preparedness and readiness for this festive period, and indeed ongoing readiness, they would be:
1. Awareness of Escalation Triggers: Ensure that you will receive notification of an impending or actual crisis event. Confirm that those managers and senior staff who will either be remaining at work, or monitoring your business threats, are fully aware of what your agreed organisational incident, emergency and crisis management triggers are, and importantly, the requirement to escalate this to the Crisis Management Team.
2. Crisis Management Team (CMT) availability: Ensure that you will be able to contact all the members of the CMT if a crisis is declared. Pre-plan and identify those members that will be available, and those that will not. Holiday periods with reduced staff is a good time to maximise your crisis management capability development and capacity by ‘standing up’ some of the alternate CMT members if required.
3. Accessible Crisis Management Tools: Ensure that all the members of the CMT still remember where, and how to access the crisis management tools. Confirm that all the CMT members have access to, and know how to utilise the tools if required.
4. Updated Key Stakeholder contacts: Ensure that previously identified key stakeholders, both internal and external to the organisation, will be contactable over the holiday period. Seek clarification before the holiday break on what contacts will be available over this time and document and share this information.
5. Clarity of Key Stakeholder expectations: Ensure that your CEO, Board and Regulators have the same expectations of the CMT during these holidays as they would during a normal business day. Seek clarity and confirmation on issues such as ‘when do they want to be contacted’, ‘how do they want to be contacted’, ‘for what reasons do they want to be contacted’. This can be a decisive readiness initiative that will protect reputations and brands.
6. Crisis Control Room Operational Readiness: Ensure that if you are called in during these holidays, to coordinate a crisis response, that the designated Crisis Control Room is in a state of Operational Readiness. Seek assurance by conducting an operational readiness check of the facility to ensure the technology and supporting equipment is working, before the holidays begin.
If you require any additional crisis and emergency capability readiness assurance, now is the time to act.
Wishing every organisation, a very merry, safe and prosperous Christmas, and most importantly, emergency and crisis free!
Sydney, Australia – 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) is today announcing a partnership with Janellis, which will offer a critical emergency management support to 100RC member cities around the globe.
The emergency and crisis management tools will help align organisations and response agencies to be better prepared for city-wide emergencies and will be available to members of 100RC’s Network, as the cities design and implement comprehensive Resilience Strategies.
Janellis joins a prestigious group of other “Platform Partners” that have committed to helping cities around the world prepare for, withstand, and bounce back from the ‘shocks’ – catastrophic events like hurricanes, fires, and floods – and ‘stresses’ – slow-moving disasters like water shortages, homelessness, and unemployment – which are increasingly part of 21st century life. The Platform Partners are a vital component of 100RC’s efforts, both providing cities with tools they need to build resilience and influencing the market as other resilience tools are developed. Current Platform Partners represent a wide array of private sector, public sector, NGO, and academic community leaders.
“In an increasingly complex and challenging world, cities need partnerships with companies like Janellis to withstand the shocks and stresses of the 21st Century,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “By providing emergency and crisis management tools to our network city, Janellis is leading by example, and is helping to build a global resilience movement at a critical time.”
“At Janellis, we are driven by building capability in the areas of crisis and emergency management for organisations across the private and public sector; so that they are prepared to respond effectively to a range of potential disruptions. Partnering with 100RC and providing world class tools to member cities will harness our expertise in emergency and crisis management and enhance cities capacity to thrive when experiencing shock and stress.” said Natalie Botha, Managing Director of Janellis.
100RC is dedicated to helping cities become more resilient to the shocks and stresses that are a growing part of the 21st century. Each city in the 100RC network receives four concrete types of support:
- Financial and logistical guidance for establishing an innovative new position in city government, a Chief Resilience Officer, who will lead the city’s resilience efforts;
- Technical support for development of a robust Resilience Strategy;
- Access to solutions, service providers, and partners from the private, public, academic, and NGO sectors who can help them develop and implement their resilience strategies; and
- Membership of a global network of member cities who can learn from and help each other.
Platform partners are dedicated to providing 100RC network cities with solutions that integrate big data, analytics, technology, resilience land use planning, infrastructure design, and new financing and insuring products. Other 100RC Platform Partners include Microsoft, Swiss Re, the World Bank, MWH Global, Veolia, and Sandia National Laboratories.
About 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation
100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a Resilience Strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit: www.100ResilientCities.org.
Janellis is an enterprise consulting firm working with leading organisations with specialist expertise in organisational resilience; risk, compliance and assurance; crisis and emergency management.
Janellis have developed www.cbdresponse.com.au, an emergency management collaboration between the NSW Government, response agencies and the private sector. The site is designed to help prepare communities within the Sydney CBD for a city-wide emergency.
The Janellis crisis management and resilience tools have been embedded in organisations across many industries in countries including Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and the USA.
The 100 Resilient Cities Global Platform Partnership provides crisis management tools to member cities around the world. The tools are particularly valuable for cities with significant risks and vulnerable communities within those cities.
- Janellis contact: Hayley Parker (Hayley.Parker@Janellis.com.au; +61 414 580 707)
- 100 Resilient Cities: Andrew Brenner (ABrenner@100RC.org; +1 646-612-7236)