If not now, when else for resilience?
Ukraine’s resilience in action is impressive to watch. Recently, I was fortunate to catch Mark Hoffman‘s latest The Resilient Journey podcast, Ukraine 2022: Business Resilience in Action. In the podcast, Mark interviews the Chief Strategy Officer of N-iX, a software development company based in Ukraine, founded in 2012. It got me thinking about what resilient activities a company can take during a crisis.
Nazariy Zhovtanetskyy described how the company reacted to the invasion, with eight offices across Europe and the United States. It is uplifting to hear how the operation leverages business continuity and resilience planning. In this time of great uncertainty, Zhovtanetskyy outlines his company’s strategy to prioritize employee safety while moving the enterprise forward. Sadly, there are few better ways to test resiliency plans than during wartime. I heard that the business is doing an outstanding job in highly precarious circumstances.
The business continuity framework stresses that the main focus is recovering business operations from an interruption. A business must continue to operate to withstand the shocks of crisis events. Today, there is a subtle but essential shift in putting employees first in that equation. Although always an important aspect–a business cannot run without its workforce–companies lead with this person-centered approach. I applaud this resilience first approach.
Zhovtanetskyy’s description of how N-iX activated its plans to locate and support employees is a real-time example of living this value. Not only did the company conduct crisis communication messaging, but they opened their doors to feed and shelter displaced employees. This emergency action exemplifies the level of commitment that the company invests in its workforce. I am confident that N-iX employees will remember this for years because the company displayed that they are the most valuable asset. More significant than that, it reaffirms basic humanity. ‘s
Providing situational updates is a vital aspect of getting communication right during times of crisis. As Mark Hoffman said in his interview with Zhovtanetskyy, “I do crisis communications and crisis management for a living, and you, sir, did it right. You are the epitome of resilience”. One aspect is understanding the company’s culture and maximizing the most effective channels. In this case, Mark describes what makes the messaging so effective.
I advise you to take note of this format because it is stellar and will not steer you wrong. You may adjust for your company’s mores, but I agree this structure works best. First, provide an overview of the state of things. This high-level brief will level-set the current environment, whether you are updating your employees, customers, or stakeholders. After painting the picture, outline the state of operations. Then, share how the crisis is impacting the company in real-time. Next, share any risks and what you are doing to mitigate them. Finally, describe the plan of action and provide a venue to answer questions. Of course, the intended audience drives the level of detail shared with the audience. Regardless, I cannot overstate the value of robust and targeted operational communications during a crisis.
Post-event, access this blog for tips on Reputation Management After A Crisis Event.
Upstream strategy sharing with clients
Next, Ukraine’s resilience in action is on display. Multiple companies actively share how they continue to provide a minimum level of service while managing the event. Not only are they dealing with extraordinary times for their business and workforce, but they strive to thrive. This ability to overcome challenges in the face of great adversity is impressive in a threatening environment. Many of Ukraine’s IT businesses act as third-party vendors.
As I’ve spoken about in my Resilience Series blogs, the importance of our vendor relationships is rising. It is vital to assess your third party’s business continuity capabilities aligned with the estimated reliance level. Zhovtanetskyy shared that success relied on having the right people who understood their roles. He also stressed the ongoing communication with their customers aligned with his team’s skill in executing crisis planning.
Last, as well exercised your team is, and regardless of how many scenarios you’ve considered, be prepared for surprises. Every crisis unfolds differently. “You cannot do everything,” Zhovtanetskyy warns. And, he is exactly right.
Whether you decide the event is Black Swan, Snow Leopard, or a more common incident, planning is the most crucial aspect. As my colleague, Mark Hoffman counseled, “You have to adjust on the fly, but the more important thing is…that preplanning. Have that culture in place so that it is the DNA of the organization”. You want to be the organization, like N-iX, whose customers are reaching out, offering direct help, and committing to stand with you through any disaster. That is proof of crisis communications and management done right.
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Listen to more of Mark Hoffman’s The Resilient Journey podcasts, with guests sharing topics on cyber security, resilience, leader efficiency, diversity, career advancement, crisis communications, and more.