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Pass me those crisis glasses

In facilitating crisis management training with executive teams, it would be fair to say that their subject matter expertise, managerial and corporate disciplines are well honed and unquestioned. They are responsible for, and well attuned, in ensuring their ‘day to day’ vertical line management, their ‘pillars of excellence’, are effective and productive.

I have however, on more than one occasion, been asked by the CEO or the COO why then, do we see some of these astute businessmen and women falter and struggle in an environment of simulated crisis planning and response mode? My response is simply; “they just need to change the lens in their glasses.”

When these organisations are in BAU mode, these executives manage, lead and make decisions through a lens of governance, approvals, checks and balances, utilising complete and validated information and not dictated (in most instances) by the burden of immediacy of time“They have their business management lenses in.”

However, irrespective of the origin of the crisis, whether internal or external, once declared, the crisis leadership team convenes. Day to day vertical line management transitions into horizontal team management, a ‘beam’ of organisational leadership. The business management lens is removed and the crisis leadership lens is replaced. The ‘crisis response prism of lights’ is now refracted into a spectrum of clarity, objectives, and actions.

Through this new lens, crisis leaders should be able to resist the strong urge to reach into their organisations to provide tactical advice, which we often call ‘leadership compression’. Where before these executives required certainty of information and intelligence, now they will utilise incomplete and dynamic information filtered through the crisis lens to inform key actions and decisions. The 80/20 rule often becomes the principle of the moment. Stakeholders that would be interacted with in normal day to day business are now re-prioritised through this lens into a strategic crisis stakeholder hierarchy where escalation, notification and communication frameworks may be the key to reputational saviour, or catastrophe.

Situations and problems that in a normal environment would be addressed with an obvious and available technical solution, will now, looking through the crisis lens, demand adaptive approaches to problem solving and bold action to create opportunity in what can be an ambiguous environment.

I have found that these are the times, where business executives transitioning into the crisis management team, often have that cognitive difficulty in coping with complex, multiple and competing issues when under pressure. This is not a question of competence, but purely that the human brain is not wired for identifying the truth and pathway amongst all the ‘white noise’ in a time critical period. It needs a special tool; a Decision Support Tool, to help decipher the facts, evaluate the current and potential impact, and develop a strategy to mitigate or control the crisis.

This is where crisis and emergency management professionals can affectionately be termed organisational optometrists. They have been trained, postured and deployed wearing the lens of crisis and emergency response, utilising a decision support tool to execute their plans, bringing normality to uncertainty. These emergency management professionals essentially assist with the ‘fitting’ of crisis lenses.

The trick though is this. Business executives cannot be expected to wear these lenses day in day out in their normal functions and roles, however upon the declaration of a crisis, they should be confident and trained to reach into the top draw, and fit these lenses.


Janellis is an enterprise consulting firm working with leading organisations across many industry sectors and government agencies. We help organisations execute their strategy and are specialists in transformation and change management; organisational resilience; risk and compliance; crisis and emergency management and portfolio and program management.

A guide to leader-led behaviour change

Janellis have run a series of transformation related events attended by a cross-section of organisations.

Most organisations have cited that the ‘change management aspects’ of strategic execution are one of the most difficult and unresolved areas. This area appears to be the ‘least understood and invested in’ part of transformation initiatives – but recognised as being critical to success.

Traditional change management approaches are occurring at tactical levels across business units, and some EPMO’s have this oversight and responsibility.

A more sophisticated, effective and enterprise-wide approach to change management now includes: strategic change management oversight; leader-led change; clearer links between financial benefits and the behaviours required to achieve them; tools to enable the behaviour changes to occur and tracking of the behaviour change success indicators.

A guide to leader-led behaviour change

1. CLARIFY STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES

Ensure the strategic objectives are measurable and that there is Executive and Board level support and the scale of the change required is understood.

2. IDENTIFY STAKEHOLDERS AND DEFINE CAPABILITY

Behaviours should be a visible manifestation of strategy, so it is important that the strategic objectives are aligned strongly with capabilities and behaviours. Identify all the key stakeholders to be impacted by the change and the critical capabilities required.

3. DETERMINE BEHAVIOURS THAT BUILD CAPABILITY

The process of behaviour-led transformation is driven by clear definitions and metrics. Once the behavioural definitions are made measurable, the organisation can set about the process of influencing and driving them.

Select a group of people who are already exhibiting some of the key desirable behaviours. Develop the explicit behaviour’s required and keep the number of behaviours to a limited and achievable number to track. Use examples and stories to illustrate the behaviours and to help reach consensus. Ensure that there are clear links from the desired behaviours to the capabilities required to achieve the strategic and financial objectives.

4. PROVIDE ENABLERS TO DRIVE THE BEHAVIOR CHANGE

SKILLS: Are the behaviours aligned to the current skills of the leaders? Do they have the skills to demonstrate the new behaviours? Do they need further training? Do they have sufficient ‘softer skills’ or leadership skills for this type of change? Do they recognise the gap in their current skills and are they willing to develop further professionally?

ENVIRONMENT: Does the current environment enable and support the desired behaviours? Are there any cultural or power based factors that need to be addressed? Is there an effective support team dynamic with an appropriate recognition and reward program? Do they have the tools that they would need to be effective?

MOTIVATION: Are the behaviours aligned to individuals personal values? Is there a peer support group in place that supports the new behaviours? Are the desired behaviours aligned with their personal KPIs? Are the consequences of non-compliance clear? Are there (financial) rewards or recognition for changing these behaviours?

SYSTEMS: Do the business systems and work processes align with, and enable the desired behaviour? Is there a visible and approachable escalation point to get help when required or when further clarity is needed or issues can’t be resolved easily? Is there a process to manage individuals who are unwilling or unable to exhibit the desired behaviours? Is behaviour alignment being monitored and reported at an Executive level?

5. LEADING AND COACHING NEW BEHAVIOURS

Leaders need to exhibit the desired behaviours and the concept of ‘self-monitoring’ needs to be introduced and; it needs to be visible and transparent to all involved in the change. Individuals who are already exhibiting the desired behaviours need to be acknowledged as change leaders and involved as key influencers. Existing communications channels need to be used as well as facilitating highly targeted stakeholder engagement activities that focus on behaviours.

Change leaders need to provide on-going coaching on the new behaviours using stories and examples that are current and directly linked to those individuals involved. There needs to be an on-going peer review process that recognises rewards and celebrates the people who are demonstrating the desired behaviours. Leaders need to use the ‘do not promote’ strategy for individuals not willing to change.

6. EMBED AND SUSTAIN THE CHANGES

Link and include the desired behaviours within the individual KPIs. Monitor and review those unwilling or unable to change their behaviours and have a process to manage where necessary. Continue to promote and reward individuals and leaders exhibiting the desired behaviours. When hiring new team members ensure they already exhibit the desired behaviours.

Linking behaviours to results makes behaviour measurement a leading indicator of success.

Download full paper here.

 

International Organisational Resilience Framework

A holistic view of risk management in the context of ‘better practice’ is now viewed as ‘organisational resilience’ and is built around a framework that incorporates financial, operational and strategic risk.

A fully integrated risk model is achieved by intelligently fusing the disciplines of risks management, crisis management, emergency management, security, business continuity and other key areas.

The Janellis resilience model incorporates four key focus areas of Risk, Readiness, Response and Assurance. The model forms the basis by which Janellis reviews and builds an organisations resilience capability. An effective resilience framework ensures organisations can rapidly adapt and respond to internal or external change, risks, opportunities, demands, disruptions or threats; and continue operations with limited impact to the business.

An organisation with a mature resilience capability is able to demonstrate the following:

  • Integration of strategic, operational and financial risks
  • Response capability built against known catastrophic risks through training and exercising
  • High levels of confidence to respond to emerging threats
  • Embedded critical thinking across the organisation
  • Alignment of resilience capability with key inter-dependencies
  • Regular assurance to the board and other key stakeholders

About the Janellis Enterprise Resilience Framework

Developed in collaboration with leading Australian organisations operating in high risk industries both nationally and internationally, this framework is based on the International Benchmarking on Organisational Resilience.

The framework is aligned with International and Australian standards including: ISO 31000:2009, the Australasian Inter-service Incident Management System (AIIMS), the Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery (PPPR) principles, AS/NZS 5050:2010 and the Australian Federal Governments Critical Infrastructure Resilience Strategy for owners and operators of critical infrastructure.

Key elements of the framework have been embedded in leading organisations and government agencies.

The framework has four areas of focus which include RISK; READINESS; RESPONSE and ASSURANCE.

RISK – ISO 31000:2009 is the cornerstone of the framework and requires an integrated and consistent approach to managing strategic operational and financial risks across the enterprise. In addition to traditional enterprise-wide risk management, it entails a greater focus on: the identification, management and reporting of ‘catastrophic risks’; understanding the dependencies and vulnerabilities related to critical suppliers and other third parties; the identification and management of emerging threats and using scenario based modelling to build situational awareness and adaptability.

“The capability to respond to extreme events is an essential part of building and maintaining organisational resilience”.

READINESS – The readiness components of the framework includes a more strategic approach to pre-planning for disruptions and ‘shocks’ through: the development and alignment of plans; training and awareness; implementing appropriate technology and having alternate site arrangements. Advanced readiness capabilities include: the alignment of plans with critical suppliers or external agencies; ensuring that all communications mechanisms are in place to receive and distribute information; the development and use of tools including a decision making framework and response handbook as an aide memoire.

RESPONSE – The response components of the framework encompass the capability to respond to specific known strategic, operational or financial ‘catastrophic’ risks or emerging threats that the organisation is managing. The response aspects involve a robust exercising and testing process that builds and maintains capability. An effective exercise development process will highlight vulnerabilities and identify strengths within the organisation. The response elements of the framework build crisis management leadership as well as critical thinking capabilities.

“An organisation may have exhaustive risk management processes, detailed plans and experienced individuals but; if a team comes together in a crisis and they are unable to demonstrate critical thinking capabilities, they may not be effective. Critical thinking skills developed at all levels within an organisation – and evident during BAU – is one of the leading indicators of organisational resilience.”

ASSURANCE – Higher levels of assurance are being sought to ensure that organisations can effectively respond to a wide range of potential threats. Traditional governance frameworks are being improved with targeted ‘readiness’ reporting, robust post-incident reviews, benchmarking and audits. Benchmarking is used to highlight areas of capability as well as areas of vulnerability and this can be done nationally and internationally.

The internal and external audit process is a recognised and effective way to provide assurance and there is a growing requirement in the areas of risk, resilience, emergency and crisis management. Whilst it may not be possible to predict or mitigate the full range of unknown risks, assurance can be provided to key stakeholders if the organisation can demonstrate: an acceptable level of pre-planning; a robust exercising program and an effective and auditable decision making process.

Download the Harvard Business Review submission containing case study examples including: NSW State Emergency Service; Qantas; Lend Lease Group, Transfield Services and Westpac Banking Corporation. Or the technical version here.


Janellis is an enterprise consulting firm working with leading organisations across many industry sectors and government agencies. We help organisations execute their strategy and are specialists in transformation and change management; organisational resilience; risk and compliance; crisis and emergency management and portfolio and program management.