Tag Archive for: Organisational Resilience

Scenario Planning Manages Uncertainty

Developing Critical Thinking within Teams

In my last article on Using Scenario Planning to Build an Adaptive Capacity, I mentioned the research we undertook with executives about Building Resilience within Critical Infrastructure and The Value of Change Management in Executing Strategy.

Our research found that, for some organisations, there has been a convergence of issues such as:

  • A resilient organisation has been described as one that has an adaptive capacity to deal with change and;
  • Organisations looking to improve the Change Management aspects of executing strategy are seeking to build greater resilience in their people, specifically in leading and responding well to change.

Developing ‘critical thinking’ within teams

One of the main approaches Janellis takes in helping organisations build their resilience and adaptive capacity is to enhance and develop Critical Thinking Skills. The tool we use to embed and enable team-based critical thinking is our Executive Decision Support Tool.

The tool has been designed to enable critical thinking during times of high pressure and scrutiny to:

  • Cut through conflicting or incomplete information.
  • Understand priorities.
  • Assess impacts across key areas.
  • Make decisions.
  • Allocate tasks and communicate effectively to a full range of identified stakeholders.

The tool allows teams to be agile and adaptive and to demonstrate resilience in the face of rapid and disruptive change.

Teams who have been using the tool for many years have intuitively used this capability in other areas such as running major transformation projects, steering committee meetings and responding to significant regulatory changes.

Most successful leaders already follow this critical thinking process in an intuitive way, on a personal level. Using the tool enables critical thinking capability to be developed more broadly in a collective way, that draws upon the diverse views and experiences within the team or organisation.

The benefits in using an Executive Decision Support Tool are:

  • Helping teams through critical decision points in establishing the strategic direction or within projects being planned or underway.
  • Providing more rigor for steering committee members to help uncover issues, confirm priorities, guide decision-making and enhance stakeholder engagement.
  • Uncovering blind spots to respond effectively to all types of risks including those that are strategic or slow burn.
  • Enabling a strong risk-­based culture through a more thorough evaluation process of key impacts.

The tool can be used at any level within the organisation to uplift critical thinking capability and to accelerate the development of emerging leaders.

Critical thinking enables leaders to understand the impact of their decisions and helps create alignment and accountability for results.

For more information on the tool, the research or our Critical Thinking Hub please email info@janellis.com.au.

Using Scenario Planning to Build Resilience

The Role of the Executive in a Crisis

Previously, we wrote an article on The role of the Board in a crisis and the need to clarify 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 is directly impacted or implicated, the Board will need to take an active leadership role. Beyond these two 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), comprised of members of the Executive leadership team, 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 leadership team needs 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 leadership team, is 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 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 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:

  1. Building adaptive thinking capability that can be drawn upon for escalating or unknown risks that emerge.
  2. Enhanced critical and creative thinking capability that can be used during ‘business as usual’ and in responding to ‘slow burn’ or strategic risks.
  3. Uncovering blind spots by identifying risks that could lead to catastrophic events and; enhancing the identification of emerging threats to the organisation.

Janellis has 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 challenge assumptions, ask the right questions and make decisions 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.
  • Regular engagement with key stakeholders within the organisation and externally.

About Janellis

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; and 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 has recently become a partner of 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.

Holidays have no immunity to crisis

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!