Incorporating Strategy and Reflection


This method incorporates strategy into the crisis management process and help keep an eye on the big picture, without reducing operational speed. 


Strategic thinking is vital but not easy in a crisis, unless you employ a method that integrates it simply and effectively into the process without undermining operational speed.

Crisis managers (and the team) often get so focused on the immediate problems and tasks that they become blind to creeping issues and risks emerging on the periphery of the crisis. This often leads to poor decision-making in a crisis, yet it can be easily avoided. One simple solution is to create a reflection team (aka strategy team) that has the time and space to keep an eye on the big picture and provide useful insights to the crisis manager.


01 | Chose the right supervisor.  The supervisor should be a "big-picture thinker" with good critical thinking skills and a good understanding of the organization and its stakeholders. It should also be someone who can get along with the crisis manager. Some organisations select an executive or senior manager for this position. The person you select for this role will serve as a close advisor to the crisis manager and can greatly influence the overall process, so it's important to carefully consider the character, experience, and training of the person who will assume it.  

02 | Define its purpose and tasks.  The reflection team's tasks will expand and contract depending on the nature and intensity of the crisis but can include the following:

  • Monitor stakeholder issues and sentiment; 
  • Identify emerging operational and strategic risks;
  • Develop some worst-case scenarios, along with possible contingencies.
  • Highlight decisions that appear to suffer from bias and offer alternative perspectives for consideration.
  • Determine if the situation has distinct possible outcomes, and if so develop scenarios and contingencies for each (learn more)
  • Determine if the situation has a wide spectrum of outcomes, and if so determine what extra information can be gathered to make the next best decision (learn more)
  • Monitor the implementation of important operational deadlines assigned to teams notifying the crisis manager things seems off track
  • Consider the ethical implication of decisions (to safeguard against ethical blindness).

03| Define optimal ways of working. The crisis manager and reflection team supervisor need to agree on how they will work together during the next crisis and write some guidelines down for future reference. If you're not sure, then I suggest that they meet for 10-15 min before every routine operational meetings. This will create a good routine and allow the crisis manager to "widen his frame" before making big decisions in operational meetings with the core team.  The reflection team leader should also have access to all the information and crisis logs.

04 | Select team members.  Ideally, you want a team that has: relevant and varied skillsets (both operational and strategic); the ability, character and skills to engage in critical and practical thinking; and who are/feel safe enough in their positions to raise objections and offer contradictory views. You don't want a team of "yes people".  You may be tempted to use one trusted advisor instead a team, but this is not nearly as effective since teams have wider frames than any one person can and thus generate more options and strategies.


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