Crisis management plans don’t work. Businesses create crisis management plans as a guide or reference on what to do in the event of a crisis. However, this approach is a flawed substitution for a crisis response process that is not dependant upon a pre-crafted, narrow anticipation of a whole range of real world issues that may cause a business to transition into crisis.

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Crisis management is a skill and vocation, learnt from experienced educators and practical application, not a long written document stored somewhere in the business and dusted off every so often.

Making a plan is no substitute to having prepared people to lead and manage in a particular manner, leveraging applicable resources to improve results and performance. The foundation of crisis leadership and management is specific, ongoing and professional education on how to lead, make decisions, priority actions, communicate and achieve results in a dynamic and unscripted set of circumstances.

Evidence and reinforcement of effective crisis decision making can be seen in professions that anticipate and respond to crisis very well, without the failed corporate notion of plans to compensate for poor skills and human deficiencies. Some professions better prepared and placed for crisis results include emergency services, pilots and soldiers. They will not stop in the middle of a real world, specific threat and read through a document prepared out of context, some time prior and expect to survive the encounter. They have prepared in advance with developed leadership skills in place, educated managers and have a variety of resources that can be accessed or applied to the crisis as and when required. This “life of death” crisis preparation is exactly how commercial business crisis preparations should be constructed. All these professions laugh at the idea that a 100 page plan will be in any way helpful when facing a real world, life and death or significant business emergency. Business leaders need to wake up to this widely practices but extremely dangerous flaw when preparing for and responding to a crisis. If you don’t think this is true, you have a vastly different, inaccurate definition of the word “crisis”.

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