Crisis and the Big Bad Wolf

Crisis Wolf At the Ready

Watch out for the wolves

Regardless of the worldwide events, we need to continue to plan for crisis and the big bad wolf, the high-risk events that can cripple organizations. As much as COVID continues to be a threat and the war in Ukraine dominates the news, businesses need to continue to plan for worst-case scenarios. In my Risk and Snow Leopard discussion, I suggested that it’s impossible to plan for all events. However, companies need to continue to prepare for known threats.

Now, I am not demeaning wolves. I realize what an unfair rap they get. Yet, they are an example of an alpha predator. Like the girl in Grimm’s fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, resilience professionals should be watchful for wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Some companies’ management may get a false sense of security, feeling that they can handle any crisis because they have dealt with COVID. 

Keep Crisis at Bay

How to lessen the impacts of crisis events

Sadly, in my experience, this is not true. I worked on SARS and H1N1 events, which were highly impactful. Those responses lulled public health and our governments into a false sense of security. At the time, we believed modern health care would triumph over an outbreak like the 1918 Pandemic. Now, we know that a genuinely worldwide infectious disease event is possible.

So, we have to be vigilant and plan for critical incidents. Exercising and testing are more critical now than pre-COVID. Personally, I find testing most fruitful for technology and security activities. Exercising works well to train and reinforce business continuity, crisis management, and crisis communications protocols. Another tool in the toolkit is leveraging horizon scanning, continual evaluation of risk, and identifying top threats. Now, the top risks do not have to align with but should include consideration of global business risks. You should identify the threats that would be most significant to your business. 

Watch the Wolves

Why does grandma suddenly have a long snout?

Another area for continued vigilance is to monitor for events that appear low-level but have the potential to escalate. I’ve participated in numerous risk monitoring exercises that never rose to a crisis level. However, I believe that watching out for these seemingly more minor threats enabled successful mitigation. Being observant, combined with a solid calibration of risk, primes an organization for a resilience posture. 

It helps to limit being caught unaware. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Not me. My crisis framework is ready. But, you better believe I’m taking precautions and prepared for the worst. 

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