Hague

A crisis manual? “Maybe when a crisis occurs…”

Preparing for a crisis is like taking out an insurance policy: you never know when you will need it. But while we make sure we are insured, in the event of a crisis it is by no means self-evident we prepared other precautionary measures.

And yet, the chance that you will need to use a crisis manual is much more likely than the chance that you will need to use your health insurance policy. That is why Hague developed a crisis manual template.

A large supplier delivered a faulty component. The company is in complete chaos, deliveries are cancelled, warehouse workers do not know what to do, and trucks don’t leave the compound. Most employees have noticed something is going on, but they don’t know what. Clients and customers need to be informed, but what do you tell them? The shipping agents also have questions. And what to do with already delivered products? They might be dangerous. This is a real crisis.

As soon as I walk in, I ask for a crisis manual. Some people look embarrassed, but it stays quiet. “We will develop one,” I propose. “Do we have time for that?”, someone asks rightly. I open my laptop and pull up a document. “Look, we’re already halfway there.”

That crisis manual template never fails to impress. It instills confidence and inspires everyone to take action. All of a sudden, the people involved know exactly what to do, and that’s quite something. Stop speculating and let’s get to work. It’s as if the crisis is almost over. Well, it may be.

Within a day, everybody knows which actions are needed to limit the damage. Employees have been informed and reassured. External stakeholders are informed of the matters that concern them and know what measures have been taken. Thanks to media monitoring, we quickly discover that the website of a news medium focused at this sector published a partially incorrect message about the situation. A phone call with additional news and information makes the editor happy, and the message is adjusted. We reduce the size of the crisis team. Business will probably be disrupted for a while, but there is hardly the sense of a crisis anymore.

We say goodbye. They can always give us a call if anything unexpected occurs. I ask them if they are going to carry out an evaluation. “An evaluation, is that really necessary?” “It is useful”, I say. You critically assess parts of your own business process. You evaluate who did what and what was neglected. That usually provides insights that lead to improvements in daily processes as well as in exceptional cases. I see a smile. “You mean we need a crisis manual?” I smile back.

This blog was based on an event where Hague was involved in as crisis communication bureau. Due to confidentiality, the case, company, people and context were altered.

Dick van der Meer

"My goal is to promote wonder by bringing stories to life"

Read more